Next target is to qualify and do well at 2020 Olympics, says Mirza

Fouaad Mirza, who won two Equestrian silver medals at the recent Asian Games, stated that his success was a result of hard work and support from Embassy International Riding School (EIRS).

Fouaad Mirza addresses the media in Bengaluru on Thursday.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Fouaad Mirza, who won two Equestrian silver medals at the recent Asian Games, stated that his success was a result of hard work and support from Embassy International Riding School (EIRS).

“EIRS has spent a lot of time and money to give me the opportunity to compete in the Asian Games. So to repay them with two medals gives me great satisfaction,” Mirza, who won silvers in individual and team eventing categories, said at an event here on Thursday.

On his tough training routine, Mirza said: “There are many aspects that go into our training. Our horses need to be looked after well. It is important for a rider to cultivate a close relationship with his horses. I rode about eight horses a day, and tried to spend seven to eight hours on the saddle every day. Riders must also be very fit, as this makes it easier for the horse to perform at its best.”

The 26-year-old from Bengaluru, who trains at Warendorf, Germany under Olympic bronze medallist Bettina Hoy, added that his next target is to qualify and do well at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Jitu Virwani, EIRS founder, explained that several hurdles had to be crossed to get Mirza and his mates a spot in the Asiad. Virwani recalled the confusion that prevailed when the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) initially refused to send the team for the quadrennial event.

“India is the only country where riders have to compete in five selection events in order to gain an Asian Games berth. In all other countries, the national coach puts pen to paper and selects the national team. It was tough on Mirza and other boys, because the horses were exhausted and worn out after competing in these selection events.

After the EFI refused our Asian Games entry, I approached the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for help. I must say that the IOA was prompt in intervening and guaranteeing our entry.”