India secured another berth in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, this time via equestrian Fouaad Mirza, who secured Olympic quota after finishing as the top-ranked rider in the group qualifiers. Mirza, a double Asian Games medallist, has ended a wait spanning nearly two decades.
The 27-year-old Mirza triumphed in Group G for the South East Asia, Oceania in the individual eventing category after the end of the Europe stage earlier this month. The official confirmation will be announced by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) on February 20.
Imtiaz Anees (2000 Sydney) and Late Wing Commander IJ Lamba (1996 Atlanta) are the only Indians to have represented the country at the Olympics.
Mirza ended with a cumulative 64 points from six qualifying events. He scored 34 points on his first horse Fernhill Facetime and 30 with his second horse Touchingwood.
“I had an idea that I was in the reckoning for the quota but had to wait for China and Thailand to qualify as teams. Both of them qualified last week in Italy. If these two countries had not qualified as teams they would have taken up the individual slots and I wouldn’t have got the Olympic berth,” said Mirza, who was honoured with the Arjuna Award in August.
The riders had to compete at 4 star level tournaments for Olympic qualifications. Based on an elaborate ranking system, a rider-horse duo collects points by taking part in tournaments throughout the year.
To gain points the rider has to finish in the top 25 percent of the number of competitors participating in the tournament. The higher the athlete is ranked in the competition the more points he gets.
“I am elated but there’s still enough work to be done. It’s one tick out of the many boxes. Now we have to prepare the best we can and enter the competition in top form,” Mirza said.