Fouaad Mirza, the double Asian Games medallist equestrian on Tuesday ended a wait spanning two decades and became the first Indian to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The news became official after the latest rankings issued by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) was released which include all results between January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.
The 27-year-old Mirza, who had won a silver in individual event in the 2018 Asian Games, had scored 34 points on his first horse Fernhill Facetime and 30 with his second horse Touchingwood.
Imtiaz Anees (2000 Sydney) and Late Wing Commander IJ Lamba (1996 Atlanta) are the only Indians to have represented the country at the Olympics.
To qualify for the Olympics, 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 per cent 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 had said.
Last year, Mirza’s top horse Seigneur Medicott had suffered an injury, denting the Asian Games silver medallists chances of qualification. But the horses have worked out well for Mirza.
Mirza shot to fame when he became the first Indian since 1982 to win an Asian Games individual medal in equestrian besides guiding the country to a second-place finish in the team competition in Jakarta in 2018.