A Devon student who is aiming for the British Paralympic team, has got one step closer after being selected to join the two year England Excel Talent Programme. Anna-Mae Cole was born with a form of muscular dystrophy (CMT) and Cherubism, but has just been selected to be part of the British Equestrian Foundation (BEF) squad for 2015 – 2017.
Anna competes in the para-equestrian dressage category and has been selected for the team due to her successful performances in competitions over the last 12 months. The 20 year old, who comes from Newton Abbot, was originally warned about the dangers of horse riding, because of the complications of the Cherubism and only started doing dressage 2 years ago.
She said: “I am really honoured to be a part of the BEF squad and to receive the sponsorships that I have. I have had great support from my coach Debbie Newton and all the staff at Bicton College, who have helped me with my training. My dream is to hopefully compete on an international level in the future!”
Anna-Mae has been an inspirational person for many and she was recently recognised at a Devon based sports awards. When Anna-Mae was younger, she also won the Best Brave Child Award (aged 12 to 15) as part of the National Well Child Awards.
“I am very honoured to even be nominated for such awards. Riding was always a sport I wanted to do but was never allowed, because of the risks involved in connection with Cherubism. One day I decided to just take up my passion of horse-riding and I have not looked back since!”
Anna-Mae is currently studying a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Care & Management at Bicton College and she is always willing to go that extra mile to help out around the yard: “I am really enjoying my time at Bicton. One of the best things I like about the course is that we are challenged, whether that is in the classroom or training for competitions. All the staff are really supportive and want to make sure you can reach your potential”.
Anna-Mae is also part of the Elite Riding Academy at Bicton College and Alex Robinson-Barr, Head of Equine at the college, helps Anna-Mae with her training, development and studies. Alex set up the Academy to provide support for students who wanted to gain more specific training and experiences in order to develop their equine and competitive skills.
Alex said: “We are very proud of Anna-Mae! She is a hard-working student and has performed fantastically within all the dressage competitions she has done over the past year. It is great to see her get the acknowledgement she deserves from so many people within the industry and other professionals. Anna-Mae is a great role model and she has a bright future ahead of her”.