In light of the 2021 Olympic games fast approaching, India’s Olympic bound equestrian Fouaad Mirza takes us behind the scenes of the preparations for the much-awaited sporting event of the year.
Mr Mirza is the first Indian to qualify for the Olympic Games in the last 20 years- a landmark achievement.
He successfully completed the minimum eligibility requirement (MER) to participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games by competing at the Baborówko Equestrian Festival in Poland.
Based out of Germany, he shared that it was an advantage to have two or more horses in training, although each jockey is only allowed to enter one horse for the Olympic Games. This allows room for unwarranted accidents during training. He has two horses saddled up: Seigneur Medicott and Dajara 4.
“I would decide close to the Olympics which horse to compete with. It all depends on which horse is in good form,” said the Arjuna award winner.
It is hard to express the bond between animals and us humans, so delicate yet special. Mr Mirza finds it hard to put into words the connection he shares with his beloved horses.
“It’s all about understanding. Over the years when you spend nearly 10 hours a day, training and grooming, the bond between the animal and the human grows. It is difficult to explain,” he revealed. “You must take the horses for training drills, feed them and at the end of the session conduct icing for recovery like elite athletes do”.
To put it into perspective, it is like tending to a baby or even a pet.
Sustaining a career
Mr Mirza also sheds light on the difficulty of sustaining financially in the horse-riding industry.
During an online media interaction, he stated “it is a very expensive sport. My expenses in the past two years were more than Rs.2 crores. Without having private sponsors, it would have been impossible for me to camp in Germany for more than two long years”.
Equestrians often feel burdened with the overload of paying off horse-riding expenses, ranging from luxurious equipment to rigorous training.
However, Mr Mirza revealed that his friends and family have been his greatest source of support during the pandemic, with constant encouragements enabling him to stay dedicated to the sport.
“Friends and parents have been very supportive. They try to keep me in the best frame of mind that helps me focus on my training,” he remarked. “They are always a pillar of support through thick and thin.”
The Tokyo Olympic games are scheduled to take place between 23rd July and 8th August after being postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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