Para-dressage prodigy Georgia Wilson didn’t think anything could top being a reserve for the FEI World Equestrian Games. But after being shortlisted for SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award, Georgia has well and truly put the cherry on top of an unbelievable 2018.
Only taking up the reins of her five-year-old mare Midnight in April, the 23-year-old achieved an incredible fourth place finish in the Grade II classification at the FEI Para Dressage World Individual Rankings.
That was compounded by achieving three plus 70% scores in Grade II classes at Hartpury, Bishop Burton and Deauville in a year to remember for the Abelege rider, a 2018 that has earned her a prestigious nomination.
SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award was launched in 2006 with double Olympic medallist and diving world champion Tom Daley the inaugural winner.
Paralympic champion Hollie Arnold MBE claimed the accolade in 2008 with para-athlete Sally Brown, hockey player Harry Martin, heptathlete Morgan Lake and sprinter Jodie Williams among the previous victors.
Georgia is now in line to join such illustrious company as one of 10 nominees selected from around 1,000 rising British stars supported by SportsAid across more than 60 different sports.
The winner will be presented at the charity’s annual SportsBall on November 15 and Georgia couldn’t believe it when she found out that she had been selected.
“It was quite a shock to found out that I had been shortlisted,” said Georgia who has been able to achieve her sporting dreams with the help of SportsAid.
“Everything has been a shock this year. It was really exciting to find out that I have been shortlisted and it’s a real privilege to be named.
“Without SportsAid I wouldn’t have been able to go to France at the start of the year and all the extra funding helped me compete.
“It has just been a massive help and without it I wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much this year."
Training alongside her hero and double Paralympic champion Sophie Wells, Wilson paid tribute to her friend and mentor for helping guide her through her early career.
And with the Paralympics less than two years away, the equestrian rider is hoping to achieve her dreams and compete in Tokyo.
“I wasn’t expecting this to all happen this year because I only got Midnight in April. She’s quite a new horse, so to get this far and achieve so much it was really good,” Georgia, who receives her SportsAid support from ICAP, added.
“I train with Sophie Wells because I look up to her and she is one of my big inspirations. She is a great friend as well and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
“My dream is to go to the Paralympics and win gold, but next year I want to go to the Europeans on Midnight.
“If I can achieve as much I have done this year next year, then I should have a good chance of being selected for the Paralympics.
“It would be amazing to be selected. People don’t get those kinds of opportunities very often, so to be selected would be an amazing opportunity.”
The winner of SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award will be revealed at the charity’s annual SportsBall, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, in London on Thursday 15 November. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk for further information.
PHOTO CREDIT - GEORGIA WILSON