Fouaad Mirza explains the need for bond with horses and his Tokyo 2020 performance
Fouaad Mirza, the third Indian equestrian to compete at the Olympics, is a torchbearer for the still-fledgling sport in the country. His 23rd place finish at Tokyo 2020 was remarkable as he became the first Indian to reach the final of eventing and wrote a new chapter for equestrian sport in India.
It should also be noted that the sport is largely dominated by the Army personnel with the 29-year-old Mirza among the few Indian civilians beside Sydney 2000 Olympian Imtiaz Anees to have found success.
"I’ve been very fortunate to have had a good first Olympics, it’s been a wonderful experience and it met all my expectations given the circumstances," Mirza told Olympics.com.
"It is an expensive sport all over the globe, however if you are hard working and have got some talent you can make it in this sport or any other. The sport is definitely moving in the right direction and I am eager to see where it goes (In India)," he added.
A psychology graduate, from the University of Northampton, Mirza understands the value of a calm mind in every walk of life.
"Maintaining composure is a good skill or quality to have in any situation or walk of life, be it in sport or business. When you are calm you give yourself that body and the mind time to respond to circumstances or situations or stimuli appropriately and 9 times out of 10 with the right responses and answers," Mirza believes.
The Bengaluru-native also recalled the incident with German modern pentathlete Annika Schleu at Tokyo 2020, where the horse Saint Boy, showed little interest in participating at the event and her gold medal hopes were subsequently dashed. It is believed that bonding with the horse is a major challenge at modern pentathlon as the riders are randomly assigned with their partners for the event.
"It was very unfortunate, the incident occurred. However horse and rider are meant to be one; they are a team. It can happen at times that either horse or rider can have a bad day," Mirza said.
"True horse “men” and “women” have a deep bond and understanding with their horses and would know exactly when to stop or when they’re partner is having a bad day etc. I feel to reach the pinnacle of this sport you need to be a horse-person simply being a jockey or rider isn’t enough you have to have understanding of the animal beyond just the sport," he added.
He continues to train in Germany's Bergedorf, which is situated in the North-western part of the country, post Tokyo 2020. Apart from his championship horses -- Dajara 4 and Seigneur Medicott -- he is also grooming Kenki, Kal and Mokatoo for future competitions.
Kenki, in fact, could be a prospect for Olympics in the future as his sister had competed for Sydney 2000 silver medallist Beat Mandli in team jumping at the Games and it runs in his family.
"Kenki is a six-year-old KWPN Bred Dutch Horse. He is very talented and yes we are looking to train him for future competition and hopefully one day a championship. It’s in his DNA as Kenki had a half sister competing at the Olympic Games - Dsarie for Switzerland under top rider Beat Mandli - in the showjumping competition," Mirza.
But for now, Mirza is focused on giving Mokatoo some experience at the Sopot Poland - CCI3 event, this week.