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Dressage star Lewis aims for Olympics after paying his way to European championships

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A West Norfolk dressage rider is hoping a self-funded bid to compete with Europe’s best will be a step along the road to an Olympic place in four years’ time.

Lewis Carrier, 23, from Downham, has been selected to represent Great Britain at next month’s European Youth Championships in Budapest.

He is part of a five-strong British squad for the event, which runs from August 9 to 30, with his 12-year-old dark bay gelding, Diego V.

Lewis Carrier on Diego (2418676)
Lewis Carrier on Diego (2418676)

And, while the biggest names in the sport have their eye on next year's rescheduled Olympics in Tokyo, a solution to coronavirus permitting, Lewis is targeting the Paris Games in 2024 for them to make an impact on the global stage.

He said: "Paris would be the time for me and Diego.

"This should have been his first year of Grand Prix. In Paris he'll be 15 or 16 and he'll be the prime age."

Lewis is playing down his medal chances this time around, but is thankful for the chance to compete at all when so much of the sporting calendar has been decimated by the pandemic.

He said he was hoping for a clear round and to emulate his top 10 finish at the last championships two years ago.

The chance to compete on the international stage comes after British Dressage decided not to field a team at the championship because of the uncertainty created by the coronavirus crisis.

To get to Hungary at all, Lewis and his team-mates are all funding their own trip having met the selection criteria to go.

Lewis said he has been having discussions with potential sponsors, but still needed more than the funding he receives from British Equestrian to make the trip.

He said: "I've had to dip into my savings a little bit but it's doable."

Team director Judy Harvey said: “We wish these five riders the best of luck at this year’s European Championships in Hungary.

“The coronavirus pandemic has severely disrupted the season all over Europe and heavily impacted the sport financially, so we took the difficult decision not to field teams this year.

“We consulted with all our riders to give them the option of self-funding, provided they had current results to satisfy the selectors.

“Representing your country at championship level is the ultimate honour and it’s great to see that – even in the most challenging of years – these young riders are able to pursue their international ambitions.

“We wish them every success as we follow their progress and cheer them on from home.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring Lewis should visit the Lewis Carrier Dressage page on Facebook for more details.

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