Bengaluru boy Mirza claims two silver medals

Bengaluru boy Mirza claims two silver medals

India last won a medal in the equestrian event in 1982

Fouaad Mirza competes in the eventing team and individual cross country event at the equestrian competitions at the Asian Games in Jakarta on Sunday. AFP

No Indian team would have experienced the agony the equestrian team went through before they boarded the flight to Jakarta for the 18th Asian Games. Uncertainty was the name of the game till the last minute but fighting through those issues, the eventing team, spearheaded by Bengaluru’s Fouaad Mirza, nailed two silver medals in heart-warming fashion on Sunday.

Mirza, astride Seigneur Medicott, won India’s first individual medal at the Asian Games in 36 years while the Indian team, comprising Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Malik, Jitender Singh and Mirza, also picked up the silver, finishing behind Japan.

The Equestrian Federation of India had initially selected a team for the Games before changing their mind. After much wrangling, a seven-member team was cleared and from that, the eventing outfit superbly justified their presence at the Jakarta International Equestrian Park.

In the three-day competition, Mirza was in lead after the first two days — dressage and cross-country — though narrowly. The Indian had 22.40 points penalty as against Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa, who was on 22.70. Everything boiled down to the jumping contest on Sunday.

Oiwsa (Bart L Jra), was the penultimate rider to go through the routine and he had a clean ride across the 11 fences. The pressure was on the final rider, Mirza, to match that. But the Indian faltered at the second fence, with Seigneur Medicott clipping the top of the barrier and knocking it down. That cost Mirza four points and even though he sailed over all the remaining fences, the gold medal had already landed in the Japanese pocket.

Mirza finished with 26.40 penalties as against Oiwa’s 22.70 and it took for a while for the 26-year-old to overcome the disappointment. 

“I threw away the gold,” was Mirza’s first reaction. I made a very very small mistake. I should have had my balance a little more behind and I would have given him time to pick his front leg up quicker.”

Regaining his composure, Mirza then acknowledged the value of his medal. “It means a lot, not just to me, for everybody in the team, we put in lot of effort to get here. Lot of investment, lot of time, and then to finish on the podium, it is great for everyone. 

“Mistakes do happen but you learn from your mistakes. You either win or you learn. That is my moral and next time, I will do my best to come out on top,” he said. 

In the team event, the Indians — Mirza and Army men Rakesh Kumar (Veni Vedi Vici), Ashish Malik (Frimeur Du Record Ch), Jitender Singh (Dalakani Du Routy) — had a total penalty of 121.30. Japan claimed the gold with a total penalty of 82.40.

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