Nothing will stop me from achieving the Olympic dream: Fouaad Mirza | Tokyo Olympics News


PUNE: While children of his age spent their time on Playstation, Fouaad Mirza‘s playtime was occupied with cats and dogs. And horses.
His father Hasneyn Mirza being a veterinarian meant he spent quite a bit of time in the stable. So, he knows a thing or two quirky about horses.
As well as the quirks of equestrian sport. One of which is that often a rider competes against his/her own coach.
Mirza, an Asian Games silver medallist and the first Indian rider to qualify for Olympics in more two decades, will be going up against Germany’s Sandra Auffarth among others in Tokyo.
He has been training under the 2012 London individual eventing silver medallist and team gold-winner at her stable, in Bergedorf near Ganderkesee, for the last couple of years.
“It is normal to have riders who are competing to be coaching other riders in this sport,” the 29-year-old said during an interaction arranged by SAI on Wednesday.
“At the 2016 Games, New Zealand’s Mark Todd (individual eventing gold medallist in 1988) coached the Brazilian team and was competing himself.”
In fact, Mirza and 34-year-old Auffarth will be walking the Olympic course together before the competition.
“We will be discussing and analysing the course together, but I will be having my own horse in my mind. There is nothing negative, or no negative dynamics, about this.”
Talking about horses, Mirza, who confirmed his Olympic spot by fulfilling the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) with Seignour Medicott and Dajara at an event in Poland on Sunday, must choose between the two.
“I have until the end of June to choose. Experience, how they cope with travel and climatic conditions, and form are the important factors, but there are small things too,” Mirza said.
Medicott, who has made a strong comeback after being away from competition for two years due to injury, has the experience in different conditions while the younger Dajara “has a lot of potential”.
“Medicott doesn’t take well to changes. He stops eating. How will you expect your athlete to perform if he doesn’t eat?
“These are small but difficult things. But we have ways to manage these things, how to make them eat and keep them happy physically and mentally.
“I will be looking at one more prep event before deciding.”
The pandemic had made the path to Japan difficult for Mirza by reducing competition opportunities and more importantly, keeping him away from his family for a long time.
But his voice brimmed with confidence and determination to return from Tokyo with a medal.
“My parents and friends have been really supportive of me. I really feel concerned about what is happening in India, but they wouldn’t tell me anything that will upset my focus,” he said.
“They understand if I don’t call them for a week or more, they know how focussed I am.
“And I am solely focussed on this dream. Nothing will stop me from achieving this dream.”
Mirza, who is sponsored by Embassy Group, and his horse of choice will be spending seven days in a bubble before boarding the flight to Tokyo, where upon arrival they will spend another seven days in a bubble.
Bangalore-born Mirza, who has received his first vaccination dose, will be able to train with his horse during the twin bubbles. Both Medicott and Dajara have been vaccinated too.
They will be accompanied by a groom (who looks after the horse), veterinarian and a physiotherapist for the horse.
A TRUE LOVE AFFAIR
Equestrian centres on the partnership between the rider and the horse. And this is built over years of “being together”.
“I am very fond of every horse (in my stable). They help me in every way. Medicott and Dajara have come to limelight because they would be representing India,” Mirza said.
“I train with them every day from morning 7 to 6 in the evening. There are various sides to the management of horses.
“We feed them, train them. I hand-walk them, graze in the field, icing the legs. Then there are physiotherapists and chiropractors who work with them.
“That is how you get to know their characteristics and they get to know you.
“It is two hearts and different minds. You train together for years to develop this relationship, this bond.
“He is looking out for you, and you are looking out for him. I don’t know how this happens, but it is from years being together.”
In the Polish event, Mirza missed out on the top place on the podium through a minor mistake in show jumping with both the horses.
Yet, he felt confident as he analysed his prospects in Tokyo.
“It was an all-round performance that got us the MER. Only show jumping let us down, but actually show jumping is my strong point,” he said.
“We will be looking at our game as a whole, there is a lot of improvement to come.
“Dressage will have different tests at the Olympics, so we need to work on that, ensure we correct all mistakes and there is no flaw.
“Cross-country is going to be difficult, we don’t know what’s going to be the set-up this time yet.”





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