Asiad: India wins two silvers in Equestrian

Fouaad Mirza bagged an individual silver besides guiding the country to a second-place finish in the team competition.

India's Fouaad Mirza competes in the eventing team and individual cross country event at the equestrian competition at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.   -  AFP

Till a week before the Asian Games, there was no clarity on whether an Indian equestrian team would even participate here. The number of twists and turns in the selection of riders and horses and the constantly changing combination of the two could have inspired a film.

On Sunday, Fouaad Mirza, riding Seigneur Medicott, put it all behind to lift an individual Eventing silver, the first ever individual equestrian medal since the inaugural edition in 1982. In the process, he also led India to a team silver in the event, another first after four bronze medals and gold in 1982.

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The 26-year-old, needing a clear round on the final day of the three-day Eventing competition, Mirza dropped a fence in jumping to incur four penalty points – enough to drop him into second place with 26.40 points behind Japan’s Oiwa Yoshiaki (22.70). Till then, however, he had led the course in dressage and cross-country and admitted he was disappointed at missing the gold but happy to have jumped from a 10th place finish in the previous edition to second this time.

“Fitness of the horse is a major concern because he’s practically coming from a cold climate, they have to be more fit to endure. He has coped very well with the weather, did a fantastic job today. Remember, he’s the main athlete here. We reap the glory but he’s done all the work,” Mirza said after the event.

Trained by Olympian Bettina Hoy, Mirza has been riding Seigneur Medicott for over a year now and feels comfortable with the horse. “I jumped the first one but was a bit slow on the second, I should have had more energy and momentum coming. I’ll carry that information with him right through my career,” he added.

With most of the Indian horses in the competition owned by him, Jitu Virwani meanwhile was a satisfied man. “I am thankful to the IOA and the ministry for ensuring the team participated after it was scratched by the EFI. Such confusion affects a rider,” he said.