Tokyo Olympics 2020: Fouaad Mirza qualifies, ends two-decade wait
What's the story?
Fouaad Mirza has become the first Indian Equestrian player to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With this, the Arjuna Awardee has ended a 20-year old wait for the nation by qualifying for the flagship event in the sport.
Fouaad Mirza came to the limelight when he won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. One of the silvers was in individual eventing while the other came in the team event.
In the process, the 27-year-old from Karnataka had ended India's 36-year medal drought in the Individual Equestrian event at the Asiad.
Mirza, who hails from a family of horse breeders, also ended 2019 on a high by winning gold at the CCI3*-S event in Strzegom, Poland.
The heart of the matter
India's Equestrian sensation made the cut for the Olympics after the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) issued the latest rankings.
The only other Indians to have represented India in Equestrian at the Olympics are Late Wing Commander I.J. Lamba and Imtiaz Anees. Imtiaz participated at the 2000 Sydney Games while Late Lamba took part in the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
Riders take part in 4-star level tournaments in a bid to qualify for the Olympics. A rider-horse duo is selected after he collects sufficient points through the year based on an elaborate ranking system. Finishing in the Top 25 percent in a particular competition helps the rider gain points. The better the rank, the more the points.
"I am elated but there’s still enough work to be done. It’s one tick out of the many boxes. Now we have to prepare the best we can and enter the competition in top form," Mirza reflected on his feat to the Indian Express.
Mirza's road to the Olympics has been full of hurdles. His German horse - Seigneur Medicott - with whom he had won the Asiad medal was injured and ruled out throughout the Olympic qualification period (Jan to Dec 2019). Fernhill Facetime and Touchingwood were the two horses Mirza rode post Medicott's injury.
However, Mirza adapted well and topped the rankings in South East Asia and Oceania zone. Fouaad accumulated a total of 64 points from the six qualifying events.
Mirza became the first Indian after 1982 to win an individual medal in equestrian at the Asiad. A podium finish at the Olympic Games is a tall ask but qualifying for it is still an achievement as Mirza will only be the third rider ever to represent India at the Olympics.
Follow Sportskeeda to get the Tokyo Olympics 2020 medal tally, schedule and more.Modified 17 Jan 2020, 17:08 IST