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Charlotte Dujardin: Dressage star crowns a memorable 2014 with award

By CNN Staff
updated 6:19 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Charlotte Dujardin wins Sportswoman of the Year award after successful 2014
  • Dujardin rewarded for World Equestrian Games triumph and World Cup victory
  • The 29-year-old is reigning Olympic, world and European champion

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(CNN) -- Charlotte Dujardin's dressage dominance was recognized Wednesday evening in her native Britain as "The Girl with the Dancing Horse" was named the Sunday Times & Sky Sports Sportswoman of the Year.

Dujardin, who earned her nickname back home after her heroics at London 2012, enjoyed a 2014 to remember as the Olympic and European champion became a world champion to consolidate her place at the summit of the sport.

The 29-year-old -- riding Dutch gelding Valegro -- claimed two individual gold medals in the special and freestyle events, as well as a team silver, at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy earlier this year, while she also became the first ever Briton to win the World Cup dressage title in Lyon in April.

The achievements of Dujardin -- she is the first rider in history to hold all the major titles in dressage -- are all the more remarkable given that she only began competing on the tour three years ago.

"If someone had asked me 'do you think that's possible?' I would have been like 'absolutely not,'" Dujardin told CNN in September after achieving the "grand slam."

"For it to have been possible and that I've actually done it is very surreal and something that I always have to think 'Oh my God!' I've won all of it. There's no more I can do."

Read: Bring on the dancing horses!

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Dujardin first became a European champion back in 2011, winning team gold in Rotterdam, before following that up two years later in Herning with two individual gold medals in the special and freestyle events.

Sandwiched in between those triumphs came her team and individual Olympic gold medals in London -- the moment when she really first caught the British public's imagination.

"I remember going into the local supermarket and I got spotted by a guy going 'Oh my God you're the girl with the dancing horse!' He goes, 'I know nothing about horses but I watched you on the telly,'" Dujardin recalls.

"If you say you do dressage and the dancing horses... nine times out of 10 people recognize our sport now."

None of the fame and success would have been possible without Valegro, though, according to Dujardin, who has been with her every step of the way.

"He's not just a horse to me, he truly is my best friend. One day I want him to pull my car when I get married," Dujardin says. "That's what I want do with him. He'll be strong enough to do that."

Dujardin saw off strong competition in winning the accolade, with Winter Olympic skeleton gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold taking second place and athlete Jo Pavey, who won European gold in the 10,000 meters at the age of 40, coming third.

Gymnast Claudia Fragapane won the young sportswoman award following her four golds at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Read: Zara Phillips back in the saddle

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