Equestrian Usman defies odds to qualify for Asian Games 2022

ISLAMABAD, May 09 (APP): Equestrian Usman Khan is all set to represent Pakistan in the Asian Games 2022 as he has produced a stunning show at FEI CIC 2-Star long format at Haras De Jardy in Paris to make a cut to the quadrennial sports extravaganza.

According to a message received by this agency, the 41-year-old Melbourne-based athlete said that he along with his new equine partner Eden Du Veret, a seven-year-old French horse had got 12th position in the event.

The Lahore-born rider had secured an individual Olympics quota in eventing in December 2019, becoming the first Pakistani to do so. But his New Zealand thoroughbred horse, which he named Azad Kashmir, died of a severe heart attack in September 2020, jeopardising his 15-year odyssey for the prestigious event.

He had to qualify again for the event with a new horse Kasheer but luck continued robbing him of the chance to make a debut at Tokyo Olympics 2020, as he met a tragic accident at FEI Naracoorte, SA, Australia Horse Trials CIC 4stars, which served as Olympic qualifiers.

Usman lost his horse besides suffering serious injuries. He was kept in rehab for around five months. But a man with unflinching determination, he never lost hope and made a strong comeback to the arena on Sunday to make a cut to the Asian Games. If he wins a medal in the Asian Games, he will be the second Pakistani to do so. Fateh Khan, who claimed a silver medal in the individual tent pegging event in the Games in New Delhi in 1982 is the only Pakistani to do such a feat in equestrian sport.

“I like to congratulate our nation that we’ve made a cut to the coveted Asian Games after securing a 12th place at FEI CIC 2-Star long format in Paris,” Usman said in the message.

Usman, who was upbeat about his latest accomplishment, said he had got his new horse only 10 days before the event and did not get much time to train with it but the standout display was enough to show that Pakistan had a perfect chance to claim a medal. “That [the performance] tells your Pakistan has a medal chance,” he said.

“Pakistan was placed 11th after dressage in a massive European field. We had kept a low profile in lead up, so there was no pressure. We achieved a national record score in the dressage phase. We went clear cross country with six time penalties and one rail in show jumping,” he said.

Usman said that even at Haras De Jardy he could have got a podium finish. “Had we not incurred time penalties we would have been at the podium,” he added.