Fouaad Mirza says Tokyo Olympics 2020 postponement is 'blessing in disguise,' grateful for added preparation time
Mirza had topped his group in the individual event category of the Olympic qualifiers for South East Asia and Oceania
Indian equestrian ace Fouaad Mirza on Sunday said that the postponement of Tokyo Olympics to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a "blessing in disguise" for him as he will get more time for preparation.
The 28-year-old Mirza, who won two silver medals in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, is currently training in Germany.
"The postponement of Olympics is like blessing in disguise for me as it gives much-needed rest to the horses and practice for me," Mirza told PTI.
"My favourite horse Seigneur Medicott has recovered from injury and I will start training with him. Touching Wood and Fernhill Facetime got time to rest and they will be fresh whenever the season begins," he added.
Mirza won a silver each in individual eventing and team eventing in the 2018 Asian Games on Seigneur Medicott while Touching Wood and Fernhill Facetime took him close to fulfil his Olympics dream.
He said India has secured a berth for the Olympics but he wants to confirm his personal quota for the Tokyo Games.
"For a confirmed Olympics berth I have to compete in one more event. That is called 'Four Star Long'. I can complete this task in international 'Four Star Long' competition. My choice of competition was to be held in Montilibretti, Italy from 9-12 April but that got cancelled due to Covid-19."
If Mirza passes the last hurdle, he will become India's third equestrian participant in the Olympics after late Indrajit Lamba (1996) and Imtiaz Anees (2000).
Mirza is currently training under the watchful eyes of German legend Sandra Auffarth who won a gold (team event) and bronze (individual) in 2012 London Olympics, besides a silver (team event) in 2016 Rio Games.
"I am based in Bergedorf, North-West Germany. This place is almost free from Covid-19 impact and there is some relaxation for athletes here. With all required precautions, I am continuing my training here," he said.
Mirza had topped his group in the individual event category of the Olympic qualifiers for South East Asia and Oceania. He scored 64 points from six qualifying events, 34 of which came with his first horse Fernhill Facetime, and other 30 with his second horse Touching Wood.
Asked about being left out of the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme, he said, "Even after getting Arjuna Award, I have not yet received benefit of any government scheme. I am receiving financial support from Embassy International Riding School (Bangalore). My focus is on the Olympics and I have no complaints about not getting help from government. However, I will try to contact government officials when I am back in India."
He also said that he's worried about the health of his parents Indira Basapa and Dr Hasneyn Mirza who are currently in Bengaluru.
Mirza is only the third Indian equestrian after Indrajit Lamba and Imtiaz Anees to secure an individual spot in Eventing at the Olympic Games. Anees was the last to make the cut for the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a wildcard.
Double Asian Games medallist equestrian Fouaad Mirza secured an Olympic quota after finishing as the top-ranked rider in his group in the qualifiers, ending a wait spanning nearly two decades.
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