Fouaad Mirza has broken the spell and is now the first Indian equestrian to qualify for the Olympics in 20 years.
In 2018 Mirza won two silver medals at the Asian games for both individual and team events. He is also the recipient of the Arjuna Award. He earned an Olympic quota in 2020 at the South East Asia Oceania Group. Mirza is now practicing in Bergedorf, Germany under Sandra Auffrath and spends almost 12 hours riding the horse, feeding them, taking care of them, which he believes will help him bond with them.
A Passion For Generations
Riding has been in his blood for generations. Back in his home in Bengaluru, they have a farm spread over 1.5 acres with 12 horses, stables, trophies, medals. For eight generations his family has been associated with horses and riding. His father Dr. Hasneyn Mirza informed News18 that his great great grandfather was the one to set roots in India from Iran in 1824. He had brought along Arab horses with him. Dr. Mirza's grandfather was a trainer and his father was in the 61st cavalry and commanded the president's bodyguard. His father also played Polo for India. Dr. Mirza is an equestrian veterinarian by profession but has a passion for riding and Polo.
Both his sons Aly Askar and Fouaad Mirza were naturally inclined towards horses. "I never sort of pushed either of them into it. For a long time, both the boys were comfortable around horses. They didn't ride for a long time. It was when they were five when they started riding. We never went on holiday. Because they were always practicing or were in events. Riding was their holiday," recalled Dr. Mirza.
Focus And Determination Did It for Mirza
Mirza securing this opportunity to represent India can be owed to his focussed nature. He always strived for excellence. For him, he would either win or learn from an event. Losing was not his way of looking at an event. His determination led him to win his first medal in 2003 at the Junior National with a lack of training. Mirza's equine companion- 24-year-old El Dorado is at the farm with their stable boy Vijay Singh. Singh has been with the family since 2007. He wishes for Mirza to win gold.
His determination and passion can also be related to one of the pictures in his father's office where he has a cut mark under his eyes. At the age of 6, he got that injury from falling off a horse. His mother, Indira Basappa, a teacher by profession, said that he was very brave during the injury.
Equestrian is the only sport in the Olympics that involves animals and both men and women compete on equal terms. It comprises three disciplines namely dressage, eventing, and jumping. It aims to display a partnership between the athlete and the horse. India has never won a medal in this category. Mirza is the third ever Indian equestrian to participate in the Olympics after Indrajeet Lamba in 1996 and Imtiaz Anees in 2000 and the country's hopes lie with him. In India sports related to horses are still considered expensive and associated with particular sections of society. Greater representation in an international platform such as the Olympics can encourage more talents in the country.