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News posted on Wednesday 8th May, 2024

Key decision gets Para equestrian her slot for Paris 2024

Louise wears a navy jacket and white jodhpurs as she competes in dressage on a chestnut horse.

A critical decision to cross the Tasman to chase all important qualifying scores for Paralympic Games selection has paid off for Levin Para equestrian rider Louise Duncan.

Louise and her mount 15-year-old Showcase BC may be a relatively new combination, but they got the tick of approval today with selection to the NZ Paralympic Team to compete at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

“It’s so surreal,” said the Grade IV dressage rider. “I am absolutely over the moon. I was so proud of what we achieved in Australia. It was our first offshore competition and Showcase was a superstar despite our few glitches.”

They had hoped to podium, and they did – finishing third in each of their three classes against Australia’s top Para equestrian riders.

“It has always been a dream to get to the Paralympic Games.”

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) CEO Greg Warnecke says:

“Massive congratulations to Louise. She has developed hugely as an athlete over the past year in the Para Sport Collective, a PNZ development initiative for pre high performance Para athletes and coaches. It really shows in her performances. And what a treat for Kiwis who will now get to cheer on Louise and Showcase BC in the stunning grounds of the Palace of Versailles! We are thrilled to have them both with us as members of the NZ Paralympic Team.”

Duncan joins 5 incredible Para athletes and Paralympians already named to the NZ Paralympic Team in the sports of Para athletics and Para table tennis.

Duncan had meningitis as a teen which led to her having a series of strokes leaving her with temporary paralysis from the neck down.

As a result, she gets aura migraines if she sits to the trot for too long. All four of her limbs are reduced in function, and as her trunk is impaired, her balance and co-ordination are also affected.

“My dexterity is not good and I get shivers in my legs sometimes when I am riding which leads to a loss of power.”

The Levin local tried to make it to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games but COVID and other obstacles put a halt to that. She’s still relatively new to Para sport, only being classified in 2017. When PNZ first approached her about coming on board, Duncan says she simply wasn’t in the right head space.

“It took a good 10 years for me to accept that things were going to be different to before, so I was late into the sport. I was just so pleased to be able to enjoy my pony and have compensating aids to help me make my riding fun and enjoyable again without pain and the frustration of losing my stirrups.”

She was delighted when her mother Frankie Webb bought Showcase BC as a surprise last year after they decided previous mount Wolkenstein BC deserved a quieter life at 21. Showcase was a horse she had admired as a youngster and is a half-brother to her now-retired star Wolkenstein BC.

“Showcase is a little pocket rocket who always tries to please you 101%. He is very athletic, has wonderful paces and is one of the most sensitive horses I have ridden.”

They may be new together, but they’ve done well, winning the Dressage Central Districts Championship Show at their first outing, were reserve at Waikato and Northern Hawke’s Bay, and won the well supported Land Rover Horse of the Year Grade IV. A win at the National Championships gave Duncan the encouragement she needed to hunt down Paris 2024 selection.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand Chief Executive Julian Bowden said the organisation was both proud and excited to have Duncan named for Paris.

“We know how hard she has worked and it will be fantastic to see the silver fern back in Para equestrian for the first time since London 2012,” he said.

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