The 29-year-old will become only the third Indian jockey to compete at the Olympic Games.
Indian equestrian Fouaad Mirza has not only qualified for the Tokyo Olympics but has also revived a sport in which India had been struggling for years. He sealed his ticket to Tokyo after a fantastic performance at the weekend in Baborowko, Poland.
The Indian athlete achieved the necessary Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) on both his horses Seigneur Medicott and Dajara. He finished second with the former and third with the latter. In doing so, the Arjuna Award winner became only the third-ever Indian to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Fouaad Mirza will follow in the footsteps of Indrajit Lamba at Atlanta 1996 and Imtiaz Anees at Sydney 2000, to showcase his abilities at the grandest stage.
In a media interaction arranged by the Sports Authority of India, he spoke to Khel Now about his childhood and Olympic preparations. He also shared his thoughts about his expectations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
An unique childhood
“My father is a vet who specializes in horses. So, that’s pretty much how I was introduced to the sport. I grew up around horses and other animals. I was very fond of being outdoors, and I don’t think I have ever had a PlayStation. Just a kid running around outside, playing with the dogs, horses, cats,” stated Mirza.
The jockey also spoke about what motivates him ahead of the biggest event of his career. He said, “From a very early age, I have been watching the equestrian sport. I have been watching it at the Olympics as well. My favourite memory would be from although I wasn’t born yet when this happened. But I have seen a lot of videos on it. Mark Todd winning the Olympics on his horse charisma in 1988 Seoul. I watched a lot of tapes on that and get a lot of excitement watching that.”
Since winning the Asian Games silver in 2018, Fouaad Mirza’s rise has been meteoric. This is evident from the fact that he qualified two horses, named Seigneur Medicott and Dajara, for the upcoming Olympics. He will now have the difficult decision to choose one amongst them to compete in Tokyo.
He remarked, “I have until the end of June to choose the horse before we send in our final entries. For me, the few of the main aspects are experience, which would be an important factor. The second would be how they cope with travels and climatic conditions in Tokyo. Another important factor would be which horse carries the better form. There are other small variants that go into it.”
“Medicott doesn’t like too much change in his surroundings, so he might stop eating. These sought of things are quite difficult especially when you travel so far away. You can’t have an athlete not eat and expect them to perform well. So, small things like this I am going to think really hard and long about. The final thing would be which horse carries the better form.”
Mirza added, “We need to do several things to ensure these horses are happy both physically and mentally. We have to figure out ways to keep them fit. I have one more prep for them and then I would make my decision.”
Hopes for Tokyo
The jockey also spoke about his preparations and ambitions for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. He said, “As a rider, you are going to make the horses jump a lot. I do follow a fitness regimen and do a lot of physical work looking after horses which keeps me in shape. To improve my riding and technique, I go to a physiotherapist who specializes in teaching riders.”
“It is a different sport in which two hearts, two minds come together to achieve one goal. I know it’s a different animal but when you train together every day for several hours, you develop this relationship. I am solely focused and concentrated on this goal of mine. Nothing is gonna stop me till I get it done,” said Mirza from Bergedorf, Germany where he is currently undergoing his preparations.
Fouaad Mirza will be carrying the hopes of an entire nation when he takes to field at the Baji Koen Sea Forest Cross-Country Course in Japan. He is in a confident mood and optimistic ahead of his maiden Olympics. The jockey will be hoping that he can do wonders with his equestrian skills and create successful chemistry with his partner in Tokyo.
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