Rider Fouaad Mirza has virtually sealed his Olympics Tokyo 2020 spot after finishing atop Group G in the Individual Eventing qualifying event with 34 points in South East Asia – Oceania zone. He has 34 points with his horse Fernhill Facetime and 30 points with his second horse Touchingwood. Hong Kong’s Thomas Heffernan Ho just has 7 points in Group G with 7 points on his horse Tayberry. Group G offers two quotas in the Individual Eventing category at the Olympics, and only Mirza and Heffernan feature in the rankings at present.
Fouaad won gold in the CCI3*S Olympic qualifying event last month in Poland after starting with a dressage score of 26.8, which placed him second behind German Antonia Baumgart. He followed it up with a second position in the showjumping event and finished the deciding cross-country round in four seconds overtime that led him to the gold.
The controversy had erupted after the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) had decided against sending an eventing team for the Olympic qualifiers in France and Poland. The body had said that financial constraints were the reason behind them not sending a team for the qualifiers. This left Fouaad as the only Indian who could qualify for the individual event in his discipline.
However, not the first Indian to qualify in Equestrian at Olympics
Fouaad, though, is not the first equestrian to qualify for the Olympics from India. India was represented by Wing Commander Indrajit Lamba in 1996 in the eventing individual category. Lamba and his horse Karishma finished 35th in the dressage event with a total of 323 points and 79.4 penalty points. He failed to finish in the cross country event and the show jumping event and was not ranked at the final standings.
In the next Olympics, held in Sydney, Wing Commander Imtiaz Anees took part in the individual eventing, finishing 32nd in the dressage event with his horse Spring Invader. He finished with 165.6 points in the cross country competition and finished an impressive 13th in the show jumping event. His final ranking was 23rd as he finished with 236.6 penalty points.
In the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Muhammad Khan, Darya Singh, Jitenderajit Ahluwalia and Hussain Singh took part in the three-day eventing (individual) as well as in the team competition. All four failed to finish in their respective individual events and could not finish in the team event as well, where they participated with horses I-Am-It, Bobby, Shewalik and Rajdoot.