Fouaad Mirza's Parents Share Stories of Their Son's Love For Riding
Representing India in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, Fouaad plans to get gold to prove his worth
Raising the hopes of 1.3 billion souls for the first ever medal in the equestrian event for India in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is the lone participant Fouaad Mirza. Yet, the demeanor and confidence of this 29-year-old, does not betray any tension or unease.
After two decades, Mirza is the first equestrian to qualify for the Olympics from India, and he is also set to create history for this nation by bagging a coveted medal, preferably gold. Many may think it is daydreaming but Mirza's feat in the 2018 Asian Games, where he bagged two silver medals, was nothing less than a miracle.
Mirza was in Germany for the last few months for his practice and preparation, with a majority of his waking hours devoted to horse and horse-riding. He is either riding the equine or feeding them, or just taking care of them, to make his bond stronger.
The ease with which he handles and rides animals is a telltale sign of his background and upbringing. At the Bengaluru home of Mirza, a farm boasts of many horses, stables for them, medals, trophies and images all narrating the tale of this champion on the horseback!
His family's connection with horse riding goes back 8 generations.
Mirza's father, Dr. Hasneyn Mirza, told News18 in an article: "My great great grandfather, he came from Iran in 1824. He settled in India. He brought Arab horses with him. My grandfather was a trainer, my father was in the 61st cavalry as the President's Bodyguard. He commanded the President's Bodyguard. He played polo for India and it just carried on".
The equestrian veterinarian with his own clinic at the farm, Dr. Mirza also loves riding and is a polo player. So deep is the love for horses in the younger generation that one room in the farm is dedicated to pictures and medals of his two sons.
The father denies that he ever influenced his sons to get on the horses. He disclosed to News18: "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 holidays. Because they were always practising or were in events. Riding was their holiday."
Dr. Mirza finds Fouaad's commitment and focus really praiseworthy. Sharing his observations for the article for News18, he said: "He is a completely committed, completely focused young man. He has only one thing in mind that is to excel. He looks at things quite differently. He looks at an event as one where he wins or learns from. Not one he loses. He always learns something whether he wins, loses or draws. The horses, their shoeing, their feeding, everything adds to the big picture."
Dr. Mirza recalled an incident about Fouaad. "He was in a UK university one time and was going to come just in time for junior nationals. This was about ten years ago. I got a list from him by email. It was the most exhaustive list one could get. It had everything from what tack has to be there for his horse to what kit should be kept ready for him to take with him. He came straight for the event, won the gold medal without having ridden."
Mirza had his share of accidents while riding. He has a distinct cut mark under his right eye which he received fall off a horse when he was six.
Recalling that incident, his mother, Indira Basappa said: "He didn't cry. He was so brave. At the age of six months, he was sitting on a horse very comfortable, not frightened at all. Then he wouldn't let go of the horse. He's been on the horse ever since then."
India has never won a medal in equestrian in the Olympics. While Mirza offers hope for the country, his father is proud. "It's a huge thing for any father to have a son represent India in the Olympics. It is the biggest stage. It is great that he can ride for the country."
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