Ashish Malik: 'Next target is to qualify for Olympics'

Ashish Malik along with his teammates -- Rakesh Kumar, Jitender Singh and Fouaad Mirza, had claimed the silver with a score of 121.30 in jumping team event at the Asian Games.

Silver medallists Fouaad Mirza (L) and Ashish Malik as they prepared for the awards ceremony for the eventing team event at the equestrian competition on Sunday in Jakarta.   -  AFP

Riding high after claiming an Asian Games team silver in equestrian, India’s Ashish Malik has set his sights on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, a target he describes as extremely tough given the time left for the 2020 Games.

Ashish along with his teammates Rakesh Kumar, Jitender Singh and Fouaad Mirza claimed the silver with a score of 121.30 in jumping team event.

“We really hope we make it to the Olympics and be good enough to win a medal one day. We really want to make the country proud at the Olympics,” Rohtak-born Ashish, who took up equestrian in his school days, told PTI  from Jakarta.

READ: Athletics takes spotlight after Equestrian high for India

“It will take minimum 5-6 years to win an Olympic medal. We are riding one star and Olympics is four star, it will be extremely tough and for that we need to keep competing with the best of the world.

“Immediate target is to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics but I know the time is very less. We really need to be super focused and we have to be really strong to take on the challenge. I hope destiny takes me there,” he added.

The Indian equestrian team had a nightmarish journey to Jakarta as it got accreditation only a day before it was scheduled to leave for the Games.

There was also a controversy with the Equestrian Federation of India declaring the selection null and void, following infighting among office-bearers in the Federation.

READ: India wins two silvers in Equestrian

Asked how difficult it was to keep their focus in such circumstances, Ashish said: “Selection is the job of the selectors, as players we are only focused on our training and preparation. We had five months to prepare for the event. It was a little difficult situation, but we had good equipment and good trainer and in this short span of time we could deliver results.”

Ashish attributed the success of the team to two-time Olympian from France, Rodolphe Scherer and Jitu Virwani, owner of Embassy group.

“It was an out of the world feeling to win a medal. We have been training for long time. But there are many who are behind this medal, we have been trained by Rodolphe Scherer ( two-time Olympian from France) for last seven months in France,” he said.

“We got a lot of support from Mr Jitu Virwani. He really helped us in getting horses, sponsoring the team, sending us to France. He has helped the sport grow in the country. I am also thankful to the federation, Indian army and our trainer for helping us.”