Story behind city boy's big effort in Jakarta

Fouaad Mirza, astride Seigneur Medicott, won India’s first individual equestrian medal at the Asian Games after 36 years. Back in Bengaluru, he told Metrolife how he made it.

What gives you the confidence?

The harder you work, you more you eliminate doubt and that gives you the confidence to perform.

How do you define competition?

You have to compete with yourself. The moment you start looking around and focusing on other people you create doubts. Sometimes there may be people who are better than you or have trained harder than you or are better prepared. Winners focus on winning and losers focus on winners. That’s my motto.

What is your mood like before any competition?

I am calm but I think self-talk really helps. In small sentences, I tell myself that I can pull it off. That’s what I told myself the whole way through this time around.

Do you have a playlist of favourite songs?

I like a lot of different genres of music. I like dance music a lot. Music is also what gets me motivated to go out there and compete.

Do you watch what you eat?

I love food and sweets. I tried my best to stop eating sugar because it is not good for human health. It is the cause of a lot of problems. When I stopped eating sugar, it helped my concentration and focus. I used to feel tired after training and finishing the day’s work. But once I stopped eating sugar, I didn’t feel fatigue or any of those symptoms.

How do you bond with horses?

My horse Seigneur Medicott puts a smile on my face every time I talk about him. I am lucky to have the ride on him. If it wasn’t for Jitu Virwani, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to partner with such an amazing animal.

How is the training scene in Bengaluru?

It is slowly starting to pick up with a few more schools starting to offer this sport. Hopefully, this silver medal will motivate more people to take to it.

Preparing for the Olympics?

I will look back on what worked and what didn’t. I will go back to the drawing board and see what suited us and what suited our mental preparation. I hope to learn from it and see what we can take and what we don’t need.

‘It was hard to get him to do his homework’

Indira Basapa is a proud mother. She attributes Fouaad’s success to his disciplined routine. A horse rider herself, she says his fondness for horses runs in his blood.

Here’s what she told Metrolife.

Did you know Fouaad would become a rider?

Horses have been in our family for generations. My mother was a rider and I spent a better part of my growing-up years riding. Hasneyn is a rider too. Both our children, Aly and Fouaad, began riding young. While Aly decided to take after his father, Fouaad was more determined to venture into riding.

How did the children grow up?

Aly and Fouaad grew up on the farm and they had no toys whatsoever. They spent their growing-up years outdoors, with the horses. They had two ponies which they were fond of. They would return from school only to go riding. It was very hard for me to get them to sit down and do their homework (laughs).

What else went into his success?

Fouaad has worked hard not only to satisfy himself but also satisfy his sponsor Jitu Virwani, without whose help, this would not have been possible.

What is his diet like?

Fouaad loves idli and sambar. He and Aly ate curd rice for the longest time. But now I am glad that they have other food preferences. Fouaad and I would regularly go to Casa Piccola and now we go to Sunny’s for their continental fare. At home, we regularly order idli and vada.

Are you a protective mother?

I was always protective but I don’t helicopter the children. They had their freedom. I would accompany them to all their riding shows till I felt confident that they could go it alone.

‘He has a good balance and a good head’

Hasneyn Mirza has seen his son Fouaad climb the ladder of success slowly but steadily. He shares with Metrolife interesting tidbits:

Injury at six

Both Aly and Fouaad were focused. An injury Fouaad had at six years was pretty bad but he was brave about it. Injuries don’t bother him too much. Winning came easily to him. He had good balance and a good head. These are two vital weapons in your armoury to be a good rider.

Keen observational skills

He rode his first big race when he was 10. After the race, he could describe everything that happened there. So when the mind is thinking and he is able to observe things around him, he realises he is focused.

At lake and farm...

We had a lake near our farm in Yelahanka and Fouaad would regularly go there on a pony. So when you didn’t find Fouaad on the farm, you knew where to look.

Cockfighting passion

Fouaad was fond of cockfighting. Aly and Fouaad would often go to Russell Market and buy cocks and bring them home, train them and tie chains to their legs. They would put them in cardboard boxes and take them to the nearest village to train them.

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Story behind city boy's big effort in Jakarta

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