Fouaad Mirza completes minimum requirements in Poland to ride into Tokyo Olympics

Fouaad Mirza will take part in his maiden Olympics in Tokyo. He will be the third Indian ever to do so in equestrianism.

By Rahul Venkat

India’s Fouaad Mirza is all set to make his Olympic debut in equestrianism in Tokyo after completing the Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MER) at an event in Poland over the weekend.

Fouaad Mirza had earlier earned a quota place in Eventing for the Tokyo Olympics in the South East Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifiers in 2019, but needed the MER score to take part in the Olympics.

He successfully completed that criteria at the CCI4*-Long eventing competition at the three-day Baborowko Equestrian Festival in Poland last weekend.

The Minimum Eligibility Requirements stipulate a rider to compete in lower-level competitions, with prescribed performance parameters like maximum allowed penalty points and time limits, in order to compete at an international event.

The CCI4* denotes the rating level of the competition. The Baborowko festival was a one-star event that allows participants who are low on experience.

In Eventing, the horse and rider compete in disciplines of dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

The 29-year-old Fouaad Mirza first topped the dressage section on Friday with his two horses - Seigneur Medicott, who was returning from injury, and Dajara 4.

In the cross-country on Saturday, Fouaad Mirza picked up a time penalty with Seigneur Medicott.

However, Fouaad Mirza had a much better outing with Dajara 4, as he completed the course quicker, which kept him in the top-two positions overall and helped him secure the MER criteria he needed for Tokyo 2020.

Fouaad Mirza will now become only the third Indian rider to take part in the Olympic Games - after Indrajit Lamba at Atlanta 1996 and Imtiaz Anees at Sydney 2000.

“There was a good deal of pressure going into the weekend because it was the last chance for me to get my MER so I had to focus real hard,” Fouaad Mirza admitted to ESPN.

“We eventually managed to do it in style and it shows my horses are in good form, and I'm doing well too.”

The Indian rider, who won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games, is now more relaxed and ready to focus on preparations for Tokyo.

“We're going to have a couple of weeks rest now and then crack on with our training. Before heading to Tokyo, we'd like to get into one more competition hopefully,” Fouaad said.