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Lis Hartel, 87; equestrian won silver medals despite paralysis

Associated Press / February 14, 2009
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COPENHAGEN - Lis Hartel, an equestrian who won two Olympic silver medals for Denmark in the 1950s despite being paralyzed below the knees because of polio, has died.

She was 87.

She died Thursday of un- disclosed causes, the Danish Equestrian Federation said yesterday.

Ms. Hartel was 23 when she was hit by a polio outbreak in Denmark.

She gradually regained use of most of her muscles, although she remained paralyzed below the knees.

Her arms and hands also were affected.

She defied medical advice and continued to ride, but needed help to get on and off the horses.

Women won the right to compete in Olympic dressage for the first time in 1952.

That year, she finished runner-up at the Helsinki Games.

Four years later, she won the silver at the Melbourne Games in which the equestrian events were held in Stockholm because of Australian quarantine laws.

Tapped as one of Denmark's all-time top 10 athletes in 2005, Ms. Hartel was included in the Scandinavian country's Hall of Fame in 1992.

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