Fouaad targets Oly qualification

riding a high

Fouaad Mirza feels him winning the Arjuna award will give equestrian, a niche sport, a fillip. AFP FILE PHOTO

Fighting adversities, talented equestrian rider Fouaad Mirza made a name for himself around the same time last year when he won two silver medals at the Asian Games. Cleared to board the flight to Jakarta at the very last moment following some wrangling in the Equestrian Federation of India, Mirza seemed oblivious to the controversies as he ended the country’s 36-year medal drought in the discipline at the continental bash.

Now, the 27-year-old from Bengaluru has been rewarded for his talent, perseverance and determination by being recommended for the Arjuna award. “Wow!” was Mirza’s was first reaction when DH contacted him.

“I’m delighted to know that I’ve been recommended for the Arjuna award. It’s truly an honour and privilege to win the Arjuna -- an award every Indian athlete dreams of winning. It still hasn’t sunk in yet, will take a week or so. But, I’ve got goosebumps and thrilled to have been acknowledged.”

“I would want to thank Jitu Virwani for believing in me. A big thank you to Embassy International Riding School and, of course, the horses. Without those lovely horses none of this would have been possible.”

Equestrian, unlike many sports in the country, remains an activity of only the affluent. Mirza feels his Arjuna could increase participation in the sport.

“It’s a sport not practiced by many in the country. Even amongst the rich, participation is limited. I feel the Asian Games success has changed things a bit and I’m hopeful my Arjuna would change the perception amongst youngsters.”

The Arjuna also comes at a difficult time for Mirza. Earlier this year, his main horse Seigneur Medicott -- with which he won medals at the Asian Games -- suffered an injury that has hurt his Olympic qualification hopes. Mirza says punching his ticket to Tokyo 2020 is his next big goal.

“With Seigneur Medicott rendered hors de combat, it’s going to very difficult. He was great and we had great chemistry. However, Fernhill Facetime and Touchingwood are very capable horses. I hope to qualify for the Olympics. That’s my main goal right now.”

Virwani, Chairman and MD, Embassy Group said, “This a proud moment for the Indian equestrian, I am delighted to see Fouaad being honoured with the Arjuna Award.”

 

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