India's participation in the upcoming Asian Games is under no doubt since several horse-rider combinations for Show-Jumping and Eventing disciplines have already achieved the required eligibility for qualification (MER) even as three selection trial events are still left, Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) asserted on Thursday. EFI's clarification has come in the wake of reports that lowering of the status of one of its events by the world governing body FEI has cast a doubt on India's participation at the Asian Games, scheduled to be held in Hangzhou from September 10-25.
The EFI insisted that FEI can not interfere in India's selection trials but admitted that one of the events which also happened to be a trial event has been downgraded from CCI2* to CCI1* level. EFI said it is not necessary that an FEI event has to serve as a selection trial and it is prerogative of the national federation to decide which event will be a selection trial. "I ask you a simple question, can ICC interfere in BCCI's selection trials for picking national team, for a cricket tournament or can UWW interfere in selection of Indian wrestlers for the Asian Games?," EFI Secretary General Colonel Jaiveer Singh said in an interaction with the PTI. "It is up to India's national sports federation to pick national team. It is highly misleading for someone to say that India's Asiad participation is under doubt just because status of one FEI event was lowered.
People have actually drawn fallicious conclusion that is under doubt." Col. Singh explained why the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) had lowered the status of the Bengaluru CCI2 event, that had to serve as a selection trial event for the Asiad. "FEI's main concern was that why so many riders entered the competition but did not finish in the Delhi event last month. They were worried about the withdrawals. "We explained to them that since riders did not get good enough points in one event, they did not want to strain their horses by participating in other event and thus the withdrawals. "FEI remained insistent and wanted us to first have a lower-rung event and then go for a CCI2 event. But please understand that we can have selection trials even without an FEI sanctioned CCI2 event.
"We are doing FEI events for the sake of transparency. It gives level-playing field for Indian riders who live and compete in the country as well as Indian riders abroad, competing in European events. At an FEI event, the jury is international and standards of judging is high," he said. EFI contended that in Eventing discipline, Major Apurva Dabhade has achieved two MERs (42.8 in Jaipur and 36.2 in Delhi) with his horse Cantolina and Major Deepanshu Sheoran (horse, Fransisco Dream) has one MER (32.7). Dfr. Rakesh Kumar (MER 34.9 with horse Victory Lap), Swr. Vikas Kumar (MER 39.1, horse Altaf) and Ashish Limaye (MER 40.5, horse Dinard Peguignon) are eligible to be on Indian team for the Asian Games.
"This Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) is as per the defined selection criteria laid down by the EFI. It matches international standard, so if they have already achieved that, how can anyone say India's Asiad participation is under doubt," Col. Jaiveer asked. In Show Jumping, securing 12 and lower penalty is good enough to be in probables and five riders have already got MERs. Out of five, Zahan Setalvad has secured two MERs (9 and 8) with horse Quintus Z and he has got another MER with horse EL Captian while Kaevaan Setalvad (9), Amar Sarin (12) and Pranay Khare (0) are other riders who are in contention to be in the Indian team. In the Dressage event, Anush Agarwalla (69.412% PSG, Prix St-Georges) and Gaurav Pundir (66.127% PSG) have achieved MERs.
"All these Indian riders have achieved MERs judged by international jury, so these results mean they are good enough to compete in Asian Games. So our trial events are pretty fair and good standard," said Lt. Colonel MM Rahman, the joint secretary of the EFI. The federation said it gives five chances to all riders to earn qualification and intends to hold the remaining selection trials between February and April. "See, we have teams ready even today but why we are hosting more trial events is that better candidates with even better points emerge. We give all riders a minimum of five trials events to compete and present their candidature," Rahman added.