Paralympian’s inspirational visit to St Albans college
- Credit: Archant
She notched up two gold medals at London 2012 and is a five-time European champion.
And now Paralympic record holder Natasha Baker has brought some horse power to Oaklands College, by paying a surprise visit to one of her fans who wants to follow in her hoof prints.
Georgina Maton, 25, was stunned when the Paralympic equestrian star dropped by at the college’s Smallford campus last Thursday (11).
The student, who is preparing to represent Great Britain in equestrian events at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July, had assumed it was just another normal day at college.
However her sporting hero suddenly arrived to pay her a visit and, once over her shock, Georgina and Natasha chatted about their passion for riding.
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Then Georgina took to the saddle as the sports star gave her a private coaching session.
Georgina, who has learning disabilities and weakness on the right side of her body, started riding at the age of five and has not let her disability stop her studying at Oaklands and working three days a week as a supported member of staff.
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She said: “I was so excited because I have always wanted to meet Natasha. Her tips were really helpful and I really appreciate her help.
“I’m really excited about Los Angeles; I’m looking forward to it and seeing what awards I might come back with.”
Natasha, who won two gold medals in dressage at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, said: “Her reaction was priceless. I wasn’t sure how she would react and what she would think, as it was a total surprise for her but she was so happy.
“Georgina is doing amazingly well – her riding has come on in leaps and bounds. To go to Los Angeles and compete for her country is an amazing opportunity.
“I told her to have fun, which is the most important thing, get to know her horse and do her best.”
Natasha suffers from transverse myelitis, a condition that has left her with permanent nerve damage and severe weakness in her legs since contracting a virus when just 14 months old.
As she is unable to use her legs while riding, Natasha instructs her horses entirely through verbal commands and seat movements.
When she was nine years old, her physiotherapist recommended she apply to the local Riding for the Disabled Association group, and she later set herself the goal of one day becoming a Paralympic champion.