Fouaad Mirza seals Tokyo 2020 spot - Who are the other Indians to have qualified for Olympics in Equestrian?
After a gap of almost two decades, India will field an athlete in an equestrian event after Fouaad Mirza qualified for Tokyo 2020, slated to get underway from July 23, 2021.
Mirza sealed his spot for Tokyo 2020 after achieving the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) on both his horses, Seigneur Medicott and Dajara, in the eventing competition in Baborowko, Poland on Sunday.
The Indian finished second with Seigneur Medicott and third with Dajara to match the necessary MER and qualify for Tokyo 2020.
In doing so, he became only the third Indian individual equestrian to qualify for the Olympics.
India's first foray into Olympic Equestrian came at Moscow 1980 when the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) had sent a team of eventers - Lt J S Ahluwalia (Shiwalik), Hussain Khan (Rajdoor), Mohammed khan Khan (I-Am-It) and Darya Singh (Bobby) - who became the first and only team to represent the country at the Games.
Let us have a look at the previous individuals to have represented the country at the Games:
Indrajit Lamba or IJ Lamba was the first Indian individual equestrian to represent the country at the Olympics. It was at Atlanta 1996 that Lamba made his Olympic debut, riding on his horse Karishma, in the Eventing category.
It was, however, not a successful outing for Lamba as he was eliminated after a fall while jumping down from an imposing bank at the sixth fence on the cross-country phase at the event. He had finished 35th in the dressage phase but his ranking didn't count after failing to complete the mixed three-day event.
It was also his only appearance at the Olympics.
The baton was then carried forward by Imtiaz Anees at Sydney 2000.
Anees, riding on his horse Spring Invader in the mixed three-day event category, finished 23rd among 31 participants. He displayed immense grit to finish the course as he had fallen at the fourth fence on the cross country phase. The next day, he completed the show jumping phase with only two fences down and also completed the dressage round.
Despite the field being stacked with world-class athletes, Anees overcame all the three phases in his event to register the best result for India in equestrian events till date.