World champion wheelchair racer takes up dressage with Paralympic dream in sight

Shelby has already shown promise coming just shy of a podium finish in her first competition. Credit: PA/ITV Border

Shelby Watson has achieved it all in one sport, becoming a five-time wheelchair racing world champion and a record breaker.

The Dumfries star reached the top in wheelchair racing competing in Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and across the UK.

However just a few months ago she got the difficult news that her sport was being cut.

"I was angry for a while, then I went through that 'it's going to be okay' phase, trying to be motivated to not give up but then after so many years of not giving up but not seeing results it does kind of wear you away a bit," she said.

Shelby Watson is targeting the 2028 Paralympic Games to compete in dressage. Credit: ITV Border

Disappointed and frustrated, the world champion began to wonder if her dream of representing team GB in Los Angeles in 2028 was ever going to happen. Supported by her father, Ms Watson made a big move and changed sport.

Ms Watson's father and coach Russ Watson said: "When my daughter started in racing, there was a spark in her eye, only a dad would notice it, the determination to get to the top was there, it was pure.

"I am seeing the same spark with the horses, the equine and the dressage, I have full confidence she will take this to the top, there will be no stopping her."

Ms Watson has already shown promise coming just shy of a podium finish in her first competition just a few days ago.

She said: "We kind of had a stumble at the beginning but we finished strong, so I am very happy with how it went.

"We went in with the aim of getting 50 so it was a dream come true to get more than that, now I know what I need to work on and I am confident we can work together to finish higher up".

Her new coaching team includes Moniaive equine experts Dalriada Film Horses.

"Shelby has really impressed me, for someone who has just started before Christmas, her natural balance is amazing, you wouldn't think she is someone who hasn't much experience," said equine expert Jess Fergusson.

The biggest task was to match Shelby with the right horse. Credit: ITV Border

"I can see her doing international competition really quite soon."

Dalriada's biggest task was matching Ms Watson with the right horse to compete at the highest level.

Ms Fergusson said: "We are using a Highland pony here, he is very calm, cool and collected, small enough to lift Shelby on, wide enough that Shelby feels comfortable but he's sensible".

Ms Watson is confident she can take the experience of competing in one sport and bring it into another to reach the 2028 Paralympic Games in LA.

"I want to spend the next few summers really improving and getting better and compete internationally," she said.

"Hopefully within 18 months I want to be able to see that Paralympic pathway coming through."

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