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Asian Games: Born in Kolkata, trained in Germany - Anush wins historic dressage individual bronze

Anush, who won dressage team gold earlier, bagged the individual bronze medal on Thursday. He is the first Indian equestrian to win a dressage individual medal in the Asian Games.

Asian Games: Born in Kolkata, trained in Germany - Anush wins historic dressage individual bronze

Anush Agarwalla wins India's first-ever dressage individual medal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Thursday.


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 28 Sep 2023 11:11 AM GMT

Equestrian Anush Agarwalla won a historic bronze medal for India in the dressage individual event at the 19th Asian Games on Thursday.

By winning the medal, Anush became the first Indian equestrian ever to win a dressage individual event in the history of the Asiad.

Anush, riding the horse Etro, scored a net total of 73.030 to win the medal.

Earlier, Anush won a gold medal in the dressage men's team event along with Hriday Vipul Chheda, Divyakriti Singh and Sudipti Hajela.

In a mixed-gender dressage individual event, Malaysia's Mohammad Qabil Bin Mahamad Fathil won the gold medal with a total score of 75.780, while Hong Kong's Jacqueline Wing Ying clinched the silver medal with a net score of 73.450.

'Feeling is really unreal'

This was India's second medal in equestrian at the Hangzhou Asian Games, with the men's team, also featuring Anush, winning the country's first-ever gold medal in the dressage team event.

After winning the medal, Anush was overwhelmed.

"The feeling is really unreal. I still don't feel that I won the bronze medal. After winning team gold already in team event, I woke up in the morning I knew that it would good partnership with my horse. I even texted my mother that we would get something. My horse was amazing," said Anush.

"I was so happy as it has been a long, long journey. Very difficult one in fact. Many a time, I thought I was not good enough, but holding this medal today was all worth it," he added.

Asked about the final few moments, the 23-year-old said, "I knew the last rider was a very strong competitor. So, it was very difficult seven minutes. Until the result came out, it felt like six years. I could not breathe; I was more nervous during this moment than I was in the past few days. My competitors showed great sportmanship. It was an interesting battle, one that I will always remember."

A pupil of legendary Schmidt

Anush, who lives in the Ballygunge area of Kolkata, took up Equestrian at the age of seven.

It was love at sight when Anush's parents took him to the Tollygunge Club, a horse-riding society, in Kolkata.

"What excites me the most about dressage is the feeling of connection and bonding with your horse. It's a great feeling when the rider and horse move in sync performing as one," said Anush.

After passing his class X from La Martiniere for Boys, he moved to the Shri Ram School, New Delhi, to finish intermediate and continue his training.

"During the weekends, I would fly to New Delhi for my training and return by Sunday evening so that I could still attend school during the week," he said in 2022.

However, he had to leave India in 2017 as finding a coach became a struggle here.

To give his dream a lift, he started researching facilities across the world. He eventually moved to Germany, where he found a salubrious training facility at Paderborn University. There, he studied and trained under the guidance of legendary German equestrian Hubertus Schmidt, the Olympic and World Championships gold medallist.

"We researched international riders and stables on the internet. The Schmidt family replied and so I travelled to Germany to get to know each other and prepare for the first time. After that, it was clear that I could start my training here. When I shifted to Germany in 2017, I was at E-level with no knowledge about true riding and almost no show experience," said Anush.

Five years from the time he started training, he along with Shruti Vora became the first Indian dressage riders to compete at the World Championships in 2022 in Herning, Denmark.

Till he achieved the Asian Games gold and bronze medals in Hangzhou, qualifying for the World Championships was Anush's best performance.

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