An extraordinary effort needed to make a mark

A little over a month ago, Fouaad Mirza was a relieved man. Fouaad had finally sealed India’s lone equestrian Olympic berth, after overcoming several hurdles along the way.

Fouaad was affected by multiple lockdowns in his base at Germany, and was also forced to keep his horse Dajara 4 in quarantine after an outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus.

As the Olympic qualification deadline fast approached, Fouaad was desperate to gain the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) needed to book a Tokyo spot. That several qualifying events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic only made his task harder.

The breakthrough came in May, when Fouaad achieved the necessary MER on both his horses, Seigneur Medicott and Dajara 4, in the CCI44*-Long eventing competition in Baborowko (Poland).

The Bengaluru rider, backed by Embassy Group, has chosen Dajara 4 as his equine partner for the Olympics.

“At the Olympics, we have two rounds of show jumping after cross-country, which is Medicott’s weak link. That was the main reason why we chose Dajara,” Fouaad explained during a recent media interaction.

Fouaad made headlines by bagging two silvers in the 2018 Asian Games. He became the first Indian to win an individual medal (eventing) in equestrian at the Asian Games since 1982. He also won a silver in the team event alongside Jitender Singh, Akash Malik and Rakesh Kumar. In 2019, Fouaad received the Arjuna award.

Fouaad was encouraged to take up the sport at a young age by his father and renowned equine veterinarian, Hasneyn Mirza.

Fouaad, who trains under triple Olympic medallist Sandra Auffarth, will compete against the German at Tokyo.

It will take an extraordinary show for Fouaad to make a mark in the Olympics. The sport is dominated by Great Britain, Germany, USA, Netherlands and France, while Asian nations have struggled to create an impact.

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