Q&A Session with Para Dressage Athlete Helen Kearney

We caught up with one of our Rio hopefuls and Para Dressage athletes Helen Kearney who did a quick questions and answers session to give you a better insight into how she got involved and what keeps her motived:

You

1. Name: Helen Kearney

2. Age: 26

3. Home location: Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow

4. Are you in college/school/training full time or working? Full time training

Sport Specific

5. Sport: Para Equestrian Dressage

6. Club training with: Para Equestrian Ireland

7. Years in current sport: Horse riding for 16 years and involved in Para Equestrian Sport for 7 years

8. What got you started: My younger sister wanted to try horse riding and I was petrified to go but my mam insisted I should go with my sister and once I got started I soon became hooked. There is a great adrenaline buzz doing something you are afraid off.

9. Do you have any previous Games experience and if so how did you find it? Yes I went to the Paralympics in London. It was a amazing experience that really challenged me.

10. What is your biggest accomplishment in your sports? Winning three medals in the London Paralympics

11. If you could revisit one moment in your career what moment would you choose? Earlier this year I put my London Paralympic horse Mister Cool to sleep and I would love to go back to the moment when we finished our Silver medal winning test and give him and big pat and appreciate how wonderful he was.

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12. What are your future aspirations in sport? I want to keep challenging myself. I have a new horse ‘Rock and Roll’ and I want to keep pushing to be the best we can be.

13. Where do you draw your inspiration from? The Horses, they are wonderful creatures that help take my disability away, they have given and continue to give me so much and that drives me on.

14. Is there a team mate or someone in the sport that you most admire and why? Pepo Puch, an Austrian 1b rider. He competed up to Olympic level before he suffered from a serious accident that left him disabled. I love that Para Sport was good enough after his accident. To me it shows that Para sport may one day be seen on a par with Able bodied sport

15. Do you have a mentor/coach that has or had a major influence on you? My coach Heike Holstein, she has taught me so much and always a great source of support to me because she competed at Olympic level for many years and understands the pressures and demands that I’m under

Fun Facts

16. Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by? The harder I work, the luckier I get

17. Your favourite thing to do outside of equestrian? A good rummage around the pound or €2 shop

18. What is your favourite sport outside of equestrian? I recently started doing a little cycling using a recumbent trike, which is good fun particularly on the downhill!

19. Do you have any routine pre competition? I like to try and do normal things like I would everyday before I ride so I don’t get too nervous

20. Your favourite movie? The Shawshank Redemption

21. Your guiltiest indulgence? Hunky Dory’s Salt & Malt Vinegar Flavour

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