Fouaad Mirza says, my horses kept me going on in Tokyo Olympics. More than two months have passed since Indian equestrian rider Fouaad Mirza competed in the Tokyo Olympics with his horse Seigneur Medicott or Mickey.
While the flurry of felicitations, appearances, and celebration events is winding down, Mirza’s has been conspicuously absent from the festivities. He never returned to India after his trip to Tokyo. Instead, he went back to his base in Bergedorf, a village in the German state of Hamburg, to continue training his horses.
Mirza came in 23rd place in Tokyo. Established names took note of this Indian rider and his steed. He would have preferred a better performance, but he has digested his experience and is coming to terms with it.
“I’m not one to moan or sit and sob about things like this, but I’m completely exhausted. It’s not that my motivation has vanished, but it’s as if something inside of me has died. I’m not sure how to put it “Mirza reports from Bergedorf to Sportstar.
Tokyo was an extraordinarily hard experience. During the Covid-19 era, he spent a significant amount of time planning out logistics for himself and his horse. This was not an easy task because I was working remotely. He had to deal with complicated documentation procedures as well as a delay in acquiring his official equipment in Germany.
“The bags containing the kit were intended to be brought here to Germany, but they became stopped in customs in Leipzig, which was hundreds of kilometres distant from where we were.” We made contact with the Indian Embassy in Berlin. Officials were quite helpful. They were able to transport the baggage from Leipzig to Cologne, which was around 70 kilometres away from Aachen, where I was staying. We travelled to Cologne to persuade them to release the baggage, but German bureaucracy is notoriously tough. The suitcases were directly in front of me, but we weren’t allowed to grab them. It took a few more phone calls to the Embassy to have the baggage released for me and my vet. We had to have the third bag delivered directly to Tokyo. We were able to do this on time since we were well ahead of the Games.
“I was already exhausted by the time I arrived. I was feeling a little nauseous and weak. It could have been the amount of work we had to do before leaving, as well as the fact that we were moving from one air-conditioned bus to an air-conditioned room and back to another air-conditioned area. We were tested on a regular basis, and I had consistently negative COVID tests, but due to doping laws, I couldn’t take any medication for how I was feeling “He continues.
Mirza and three others had been to Tokyo with Mickey, who was 15 at the time. By then, the 29-year-old rider had not seen his family in over three years, following his double silver medal sweep at the 2018 Asian Games.
“I recall urging my father not to inform mom or anyone else at home about his illness because I knew my phone would be inundated with calls and messages. I’d just go to the dining hall every two hours and sip some soup. I was concerned about it interfering with my ability to compete, but happily, I was able to recover in time for the tournament “Mirza explains.
During the Olympics, he had to deal with a number of issues. After an outstanding performance in the dressage round that saw Mirza and Mickey enter the standings in ninth place, a ‘technical difficulty’ earned him 11.20 penalty points despite finishing the course with no obstacle penalties, dropping him to 22nd. This was due to health regulations that hampered Mickey’s warm-up.
“A lot of horses were overheated before the Tokyo cross-country test.” Mickey was starting to overheat after his initial warm-up, I was told. As a result, they requested that we chill him and bring his temperature down. You accomplish this by removing all of their equipment and sprinkling them with ice cold water.
“Then there was the stewardess in charge of the start times. She walked in and said, “You have to start now,” and I replied that I hadn’t warmed up. There was a lot of uncertainty. It didn’t end up going well for me because I hadn’t warmed up adequately “Mirza explains that the delay caused him to exceed the allowed time limit despite the error-free run.
Mickey was exposed to the humid conditions at the Sea Forest course after an 8.48am local time start was put back nearly an hour. This was not in the plan.