Fouaad Mirza has to look at life beyond Seigneur Medicott
New Delhi: The euphoria over India's success at the Tokyo Olympics continues. Even as the select seven, who won medals, soak in the glory and rake in the moolah, there are some athletes who are content with the experience garnered and what next they need to do.
Equestrian exponent Fouaad Mirza, virtually a rookie going into Tokyo 2020, finished more than a creditable 23rd with his mount Seigneur Medicott in extremely challenging conditions.
It was not easy for the man-rider combination to excel. For Fouaad, it was not just about picking the right horse.
He was dilly-dallying, so to say, caught between his two best horses, Seigneur Medicott and Dajara 4.
If he had initially chosen Dajara 4 first, then his heart said something else at the last minute. He then shifted to his lucky charm, Seigneur Medicott. Speaking to Millennium Post after returning to his base in Germany, Fouaad was happy with the overall experience.
It was not about having got to sample the atmosphere at the Olympics, but how much he learnt about the nuances of the sport. "I am very happy with whatever results I achieved in Tokyo. I can say one thing with certainty, the best is ahead of me. The conditions in Tokyo were extremely challenging not just for me bit also for the horse. If there were 75 horses on the start list, 10 dropped off very early. A few more went off the list, and when I say that it's not that they died but were withdrawn due to the heat," said Fouaad.
As one who is an Asian Games medallist from Jakarta in 2018 and has competed in competitions in Europe, Fouaad feels the challenge in Tokyo was very different. "I take back a lot of inputs and positives from my maiden Olympics. Not many will know what it means to finish 23rd in the Olympics but I did my best," said Fouaad.
The young man certainly had made the equestrian fraternity sit up and take notice as he performed with coolness and composure.
"The first day (dressage) was fairly good. But in cross country, on the second day, there were a few technical issues. I started late and it was harder for me to get him (Seigneur Medicott) to get warmed up and then hit a rhythm. I had to make changes with the way I adapted to the fresh situation in cross country. Show-jumping (third day) has been the weak link for us (horse and rider). I now know what all I have picked up from Tokyo and will better prepared for the challenges in the next year," said Fouaad.
Talking at length about the heat and humidity, which was gruelling, Fouaad said some horses did not start as it would have been cruel to the mount. If 10 horses after the mandatory inspection could not even step out, it speaks volumes about how the riders dealt with the challenges and heart break.
The key for the Indian rider was to nurse his mount and not punish it any which way. There was a tinge of sadness when Fouaad said he could not use Seigneur Medicott at the Asian Games next year in China.
"He (Seigneur Medicott) has been good for me. There is a new rule which says horses which have competed at the Olympics cannot be used for the Asian Games. I will have to look at other horses for the next year where I will compete in the Asian Games as well as the World Equestrian Games," said an emotional Fouaad.
In Dajara 4, he has one very good horse, which was also prepped up for the Tokyo Olympics. However, he and his team sponsors, Embassy Group, may have to look at more options as well for the future. He says the gains from understanding the logistics at the Olympics are very important.
"I guess my team management knows what next is to be done for me in future competitions and challenges. I am glad I could do my best in Tokyo but I will miss Seigneur Medicott," he added. He was the lucky charm in the Asian Games and the Olympics.