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June 8, 2011 - Nine-times paralympic gold medallist Lee Pearson will not be defending his titles at the 2011 European Championships in Moorsele this September due to a broken back.
Lee, 37, fell off during a training session, fracturing three vertebrae and crushing a fourth. He will be out of action for eight weeks.
"The news came as a shock, as I'm able to carry on with life pretty much as normal," said Lee, who received specialist medical support as a member of the World Class Performance Squad. "It's just uncomfortable to ride; I never dreamed it could be broken."
The fractures are stable and a full recovery is expected, but Lee has been advised to allow sufficient time for the injuries to heal completely. This means he will miss the selection events for the Para-Equestrian Dressage European Championships (1-4 September), denying him the chance to add to the tally of 27 championship medals he has already won.
"I could be riding again sooner, but either way it's much more important that I'm injury-free and back in form for the London Paralympics next year," he said.
Para-Equestrian Dressage performance manager David Hunter said: "It's very unfortunate that Lee will miss out on the selection process for the Europeans, but we expect to see him back on board soon and fighting fit for London 2012."
Equestrian Team GBR performance director Will Connell is also looking forward to the multi-medallist's return. "Lee has been at the epicenter of the para equestrian team's many medal successes and we will miss him at the European Championships. We will ensure he receives the very best support along the road back to the podium."