Fouaad Mirza back in the saddle seeking ticket to Tokyo 

Returning to competition at a German cross-country event after a seven-month gap, Fouaad Mirza is now eyeing a berth at the Olympics.

By Subhayan Dutta
Picture by Fouaad Mirza/Twitter

Returning to competition mode after almost seven months, Indian equestrian ace Fouaad Mirza was happy with his performance in the Westerstede Standard Show in Germany.

The Indian rider had not competed since winning a quota place at the Tokyo Olympics in November last year. He was getting ready to claim an individual berth at the Olympic qualifying events when the COVID-19 outbreak escalated, halting all sporting events in its wake.

The soon-imposed worldwide travel bans saw Fouaad Mirza stuck in Germany, which worked out well for him as he kept practising in Ganderkesee in Germany under Olympic champion Sandra Auffarth.

And when an intermediate cross country event was announced in Germany’s Westerstede last month, he had to compete.

“It has been more than three months, my last competition was in France in November,” Fouaad Mirza told Hindustan Times.

Photo: Fouaad Mirza/Twitter.
Picture by Fouaad Mirza/Twitter

Riding his new horse Dajara 4 in the CCI 3-star S competition, the Bengaluru rider finished 51st in the event, which was impressive as Fouaad Mirza had to battle nervousness.

“The first part of the competition was dressage. There were nerves going into the competition,” he admitted.

“I knew it was because I hadn’t been competing for a long time. As soon as I started to do my programme, they went away.

“But as a rider, I showed a bit of ring rust… It was just that I went in there and rode a bit nice and quiet, where I should have asked more from the horse and gone in there to show off my horse,” the self-demanding 28-year-old added.

Apart from the dressage, the three-day CCI 3-star S competition event also had cross-country and show jumping and the Indian rider was pleased with his horse’s performance.

“The competition wasn’t very difficult and she [Dajara 4] jumped amazing,” Fouaad Mirza said.

“In the cross-country round, she galloped like a machine, jumped all the questions (hurdles) and did everything more than I had wished for,” he added.

Fouaad Mirza met his remaining MER in a CCI 4-star long format to cement his spot for the Games

Eyeing Tokyo Olympics berth

With an Olympic quota place secured, Fouaad Mirza’s next target is to ensure his own berth at the Summer Games next year.

In order to do so, he must meet his remaining Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) in a CCI 4-star long format to cement his spot for the Games.

And all his training and competitions are steps towards attaining that before the Tokyo Olympics begin next year.

Under the tutelage of German legend Sandra Auffarth, who won gold (team event) and bronze (individual) medals in the 2012 London Olympics and a silver medal (team event) at the 2016 Olympics, Fouaad Mirza is eyeing numerous upcoming events in Europe.

“There are national shows that are coming up. There’s a show-jumping competition I am going to be competing at the weekend… another training sort of show, more for me than the horses,” he listed out.