Sophie Christiansen: BBC Sports Personality 2016 contender

Sophie Christiansen
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016
Date: Sunday, 18 December. Venue: Genting Arena, Birmingham. Time: 18:40-21:00 GMT. Coverage: BBC One, Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website

We are showcasing each of the 16 contenders in the run-up to the Sports Personality of the Year award on 18 December. Today - Sophie Christiansen and Alistair Brownlee.

Sophie Christiansen - Age: 29 Sport: Equestrian

Year in a nutshell

Won three gold medals in dressage at the Rio Paralympics, taking her career haul to eight.

The rider from Berkshire, who has cerebral palsy, was victorious in the individual freestyle, grade 1a championship and mixed team event aboard her beloved horse Athene.

In 2016, Christiansen did not finish lower than second in any FEI event she competed in.

How she got here

Sophie Christiansen

Christiansen was born two months prematurely with cerebral palsy and survived despite suffering jaundice, blood poisoning, a heart attack and a collapsed lung.

She began riding aged six on a school trip as a form of physiotherapy, loved the freedom horses gave her, and took up dressage when she was 13.

Three years later, she was the youngest member of the Great Britain squad to compete at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.

She has won 10 medals at the last three Games, including triple gold at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Christiansen has a first-class masters degree in mathematics and took unpaid leave from her role as analyst for an investment bank to compete in Rio.

How Christiansen balances sport and work

Her choice of music for routines has ranged from Pink Floyd to the Big Ben chimes. In Brazil, she used Harry Potter film composer Nick Hooper, whose daughter has cerebral palsy.

What she said: "The most important thing I've learned is that you can't be afraid of going outside your comfort zone."

What you said

Mel Holt: "Love Sophie Christiansen, she was such an inspiration to watch. Tops my list."

Lauren Hunt: "Utterly brilliant Sophie. Delighted for you - my sporting heroine. Fingers crossed. Good luck."

Heatherwood Wexham (hospitals): "Congrats to @SChristiansen87 on making possibly the strongest #SPOTY shortlist ever! V proud to have one of our wards named after you."

Sports Personality record: First nomination. Dressage has been represented before, with Charlotte Dujardin finishing fourth in 2014.

Sophie Christiansen competes in the most disabled category for para dressage - Grade 1a
Christiansen competes in the most disabled category for para dressage - Grade 1a

Get Inspired

Horse riding is a unique activity where the bond you create with the horse can be beneficial physically and mentally.

Visit the Get Inspired website to find out more on how to get into equestrian sports.

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