Laurentia Tan, 37-year-old Para-equestrian rider, will be competing with her horse Fuerst Sherlock in the Rio Paralympics 2016.
Laurentia developed cerebral palsy and profound deafness after birth. When she was three, she moved to the United Kingdom with her parents. She took up horse riding at age of five years as a form of physiotherapy.
Laurentia was invited by the Riding for the Disabled Association Singapore (RDA) in March 2007 to join the Singapore team for the World Para Dressage Championships at Hartpury College in Hartpury, Gloucester, in England in July that year.
She won the bronze medal which was the first Singapore’s first Paralympic medals and Asia’s first equestrian medals at the Paralympic Games.
Laurentia had also won a bronze medal in the dressage Individual Championship Test (class Ia), followed by a silver medal in the Individual Freestyle Test (class Ia) at the 2012 Summer London Paralympics.
“I do wish though that I could have a live orchestra playing something visual so I can ‘see’ the music. Other riders can hear their music and pace themselves. I can’t hear the music at all, let alone when it has started or is finishing. I can’t hear where I am in the timing of the music, never mind if I have more time or less time to do a certain movement. But I think it is a blessing in a way as I can just concentrate on the riding, the horse, and the movements,” she said.
Then she added, “I can achieve the same things a so-called ‘able-bodied’ person would. I just have to do it differently, with creativity and imagination.”
Laurentia will be competing on 16 September afternoon (Singapore time) in the finals of the Individual Championship Test-Grade Ia.
In a series of questions by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Laurentia shares how she is preparing for her competition.
MCCY: This is not your first time participating in the Paralympics. What makes this time different?
Laurentia: Each and every Paralympic Games is special! It is always a great honour to represent Singapore and especially so at any Paralympic Games. This will be my first trip to South America and I’m excited about it!
MCCY: What is your daily training schedule for the Paralympics like?
Laurentia: My routine has been quite intense in terms of training, on and off the horse. As my horses are based in Germany with our head coach, I would travel to Germany to train with the horses and concentrate on physio, aqua physio and gym work when in London.
MCCY: Do you have any superstitions or lucky rituals you do before a competition?
Laurentia: Not really, I just need to have my own space and be in my “zone”, thinking and visualising my test. This is so that I am “clear – minded”, focused and ready to communicate, listen and perform with my horse!
MCCY: Besides the competition proper, what else are you looking forward to at the Rio 2016 Games?
Laurentia: Meeting people from all over the world, experiencing and soaking in the atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro!