Sir Lee Pearson continued an astounding run of Paralympics triumphs, earning the 12th gold medal of his illustrious career with a victory in para dressage in Tokyo.
Representing Great Britain in his fifth Games, the openly gay rider earned a total score of 76.265 to climb to his familiar place at the top of the leaderboard.
However, this event also marked a first for Pearson. After earning his previous medals riding his late horse Gentleman (who passed away earlier this year), the Tokyo Paralympics saw him take home gold atop a new horse named Breezer.
Making the moment even more special, Pearson had raised Breezer from birth. Due to both the challenge of competing with a new horse and the connection between the two, Pearson was especially moved upon winning gold.
“I’m as emotional as the first,” Pearson revealed. “I’m probably more emotional, I don’t think I’ve cried immediately after a test before now. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. It’s difficult to stay at the top.”
Although Pearson admitted that he had felt Breezer tense up just before the event began, his horse came through for him when the lights shone brightest. In the wake of their performance, Pearson was especially grateful.
“I just feel so lucky that I’ve got horses in my life,” he enthused, “They give me their legs. I’m rubbish at dancing in a nightclub, but I’m bearable dancing in a dressage arena.”
In the wake of another victory, “bearable” hardly begins to describe it. As his 12 golds demonstrate, Pearson has earned a place as one of the greatest athletes is both dressage and Paralympics history. This is Pearson’s 15th Paralympics medal overall, including two silvers and a bronze.