Alicia Griffiths looking make to further strides in para-equestrian career
Alicia Griffiths is ready to continue thriving in the para-equestrian world.
By Oli Dickson Jefford
Alicia Griffiths is ready to take on the equestrian world after the sport provided some much-needed solace during the darkest time of her life.
The Bristol para dressage star, 37, was forced to give up driving, move back home from university and re-learn basic tasks such as brushing her teeth after suddenly losing her sight aged 19.
Griffiths was told she would have to abandon horse riding, but persevered and is now targeting the very top.
“I started riding again when I spent a year in the hospital,” said Griffiths, who is supported by SportsAid and Marsh and was speaking ahead of SportsAid Week 2023.
“My mum and dad would take me out of the hospital so I could sit on my pony. When you’re a horse person, there’s nothing quite like it.
“I’m quite stubborn, so that helped, because it was a case of ‘you can’t drive anymore, you can’t walk round the street unaided anymore, so what can I do? I can go on a horse.’
“I’m on a P3 pathway with British Equestrian, and I’m also incredibly proud of having competed in my first 3* event. I really want to go to the Europeans, and obviously I’d love to go to the Paralympics and move up the Podium Potential pathway as well.
“I’m very lucky that in equestrianism you don’t age out as you do in other sports, and I want to see how far I can go. I spent a lot of my early twenties in and out of hospital, and I feel like it’s my time to progress in my sport.”
Griffiths’ equestrian career is balanced alongside working two days a week in the NHS and being a mum to sons Harry and Noah, and daughter Sophie.
It is not always the easiest balance, but her sporting ambitions are hugely supported by colleagues and family.
She added: “I’ve worked for the NHS now for 12 years, and I have the most supportive trust in terms of supporting my para goals and my dreams. They are amazing.
“If I’ve got a show they’ll allow me to do two days at the start of the week rather than the two days I normally do - as long as I get my hours done it’s really good.
“All three of my children are incredibly sporty - my daughter is into ponies and is my biggest cheerleader. I have an incredibly supportive family and I have a calendar where we start planning at the start of the year as to who’s going where and what we are doing.
“Our time is usually spent at yards, on the side of the football pitch, at swimming. I go to bed late and wake up early so everything gets done.
“I’m lucky that I can ride during the day while the children are at school and they then take priority after school with their sports and their goals.”
SportsAid Week 2023 is coming, with the annual initiative, which was launched in 2016, taking place from Monday 6 March to Sunday 12 March.
This year’s theme focuses on ‘Accessibility and Inclusion’ as the charity shines a spotlight on the country’s most talented young athletes and celebrates the incredible work being undertaken by its partners to support the future of British sport.
#SportsAidWeek 2023 kicks off today!
This year’s theme focuses on accessibility and inclusion as the charity shines a spotlight on the country’s most talented young athletes and celebrates the incredible work being undertaken by its partners 🤝
▶️ https://t.co/Yn9a5tVsYl pic.twitter.com/hwRxSvYDIv
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) March 6, 2023
The theme of ‘Accessibility and Inclusion’ is an opportunity for the charity’s partners to highlight their own work in this area during SportsAid Week, with SportsAid athletes recently revealing that accessibility and the cost of sport are the issues they care most passionately about.
It will also open up discussions on the progress being made, as well as the challenges faced, in the sports sector.
And while Griffiths believes sport gives her a sense of freedom, she thinks more can be done.
“Sport allows my disability not to define me: yes, I’m blind, but when I’m on a horse or participating in sport, I’m no longer ‘Alicia, she’s blind.’ I’m just Alicia,” said Griffiths, who is funded by SportsAid and commercial partner Marsh.
“I want people to see past the disability and see how much value we can add as people to sporting events and general participation within sport.
“I think inclusion should be at the forefront of holding any sporting event disabled or able bodied. If you’re holding a sporting event, think about how you can make it accessible to those watching. It’s not just the taking part but also the support of any sport.”
SportsAid Week 2023 takes place from Monday 6 March to Sunday 12 March! Join us for a dedicated week of fun and awareness-raising based around theme of accessibility and inclusion. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk