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Dressage star’s ‘an inspiration’
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
A TOP horseman who honed his talents riding donkeys at a South London farm inspired youngsters at an Olympic-themed event.
On Tuesday, dressage rider Sam Martin talked about his incredible journey at John Roan School, Maze Hill, Blackheath.
The 27-year-old told pupils how horses transformed his life from being a teenager living rough and getting in regular trouble with the police.
Mr Martin hoped to represent Nigeria at London 2012 but efforts to set up an equestrian federation in Nigeria for him to represent, were not completed in time for the Games.
But he will still be involved as a support worker with the Nigerian Olympic team in London.
The 27-year-old recalled how he found life tough growing up in Black Prince Road.
Horse riding was a form of escapism and he began riding a donkey called Jacko before going on to be trained by international dressage coach Emile Faurie. Mr Martin told the South London Press: “It was great to meet the children. The message I wanted to get across was for them to find their passion and what they enjoy doing.
“I was exactly like them and if I had not gone to the Vauxhall City Farm, Tyers Street, Vauxhall, to ride I would never have discovered my talent.”
The sportsman, who now buys and sells horses, went to Archbishop Sumner CofE Primary School in Kennington, added: “Riding has changed my life, opened so many doors and given me so many opportunities.
“My long-term ambition would be to compete for GB but the team is of gold medal standard now.
“It would be more realistic to compete for Nigeria.”
Headteacher Des Malone said: “It was great to have Sam here, his success is outstanding. The event was part of a programme to ease the pupils’ transition to our school.”
The Jump Ahead event was organised by MakeBelieveArts, which is based at The Deptford Mission in Creek Road.
Shetland ponies from Vauxhall City Farm, horse simulators and London 2012 Olympic poet Paul Lyalls were other attractions at the event held for primary school pupils set to join the secondary school in September.
Organiser Alice Edwards said: “The children were hanging on Sam’s every word – as were the parents.
“A number of parents said they thought it was great for the children to hear him as he had grown up in their area and achieved so much.”
MakeBelieveArts’ transition programme is funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and managed by East London Business Alliance.
All content © of South London Press unless stated otherwise.
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