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13 Questions: Lee Pearson

by Ouch Team

3rd July 2008

Lee Pearson OBE is a 34 year-old Para-equestrian dressage rider from Staffordshire. He already has a plethora of medals to his name, including six Paralympic golds, but isn't prepared to give up until he has gained a knighthood and beaten Tanni Gray-Thomson's Paralympic record. He was also presented with a Children of Courage award in 1980, by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. How can Ouch's 13 Questions possibly live up to that experience?

Uppermost in my mind today is ...

Lee Pearson
Collecting brood mares and foals tomorrow. I own a competition yard and breeding business. I'll drive off in a big automatic lorry at 8 in the morning and return at 7 in the evening. By the time the horses are sorted it will be 10.00pm.

People think I'm ...

Rather inspirational, if you read the guest book on my website I have six Paralympic gold medals and nineteen in total.  I’m a gay disabled man who has become very successful.  I don’t get up in the morning and think I’m inspirational, I just get up thinking that I love horses.

I want to ban ...

Lee Pearson in competition
All the unfairness in the world. Yes, it sounds very cheesy, but I have done a lot of travelling and In certain countries you're not allowed to be gay and they have never seen a disabled person on the street before. People are forced to live their lives in shame.

Not a lot of people know that I ...

Would like to have children. I don’t have a partner at the moment - we finished recently, after seven and a half years together. I’ve thought about adopting, but I’m a bit paranoid that because I’m gay and disabled I’d be put straight off the list. My mother thinks that I would jump the queue, because they like minorities adopting. I have great genes though, and I would like to pass them on.

The best piece of advice I would pass on is ...

If you don’t like something, change it. My parents expected me to stay in my office job as an administrator at the Co-op because I’m disabled, but I said no and changed my whole life.

I excel at ...

Enjoying life and making people feel comfortable. I walk on crutches and my legs are bent, but I subconsciously help people to feel at ease around me.

My ideal dinner guest is ...

Dermot O’Leary, because he’s sexy. I’m not going to waste my time on a person who would intellectually do my head in.

I couldn't live without ...

My leg splints and my crutches. I’ve stayed in the best hotels in the world, but you could put me in prison and I’d still have fun. I do like to be able to get around, though. I have an electric wheelchair and a quad bike as well.

Where do you spend most of your time?

At home or at my stables. I do a lot of travelling too, so in my lorry there is a horse section and a human section that sleeps four people. I walk up the same ramp that the horses use to get in, and when I’m driving the grooms give me a leg up into the cabin.

My first job was ...

Working at a clay pigeon shoot. I would travel down on my quad bike and sit in the freezing cold all day keeping score. I was 13.

When I come home in the evenings, I ...

Watch TV whilst surfing the net on my laptop. Facebook and Gaydar, a social networking site for gay people, can be quite addictive. I’ve had four or five dates in the last month. On my profile, I say I’m disabled in the same sentence as I mention that I have blonde hair.

What is the difference between being a Para-equestrian dressage rider and an able-bodied dressage rider?

Dressage is dressage. The Para Dressage is just at a lower technical level, and there are five separate categories depending on your disability. I've won against able-bodied riders too. The only adaptation I have is my saddle, which is a slightly different shape to suit my legs. There is no rule to say that I couldn't enter the Olympics. I have the talent, but unless someone is prepared to sponsor me millions for an Olympic-standard horse, its not going to happen.

What do you expect from the Paralympics in Beijing?

I’ll be in Hong Kong, as none of the equestrian events are in Beijing. I've been there before, and I don’t think Hong Kong is as tough as China seems to be on disabled people. All of a sudden, disabled people in China are visible because the country wants to do well in the Paralympics. The more places we go, the better things will be for people with disabilities.

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