Tuesday May 18 2021

Pakistani equestrian Usman falls off horse, suffers injuries in bid to reach Olympics

Pakistan’s top equestrian and the country’s only four-star rider Usman Khan. — Twitter

Pakistan’s top equestrian and the country’s only four-star rider Usman Khan was only a few meters away from retaining his place in Tokyo Olympics when he met an accident during a qualifying round in Australia.

Usman received serious injuries in the accident, while his horse “Kasheer” passed away.

The equestrian suffered head trauma and reported dizziness, while his ribs were bruised, and slurred his words but were still in good spirits.

“I am alive and so is Pakistan's Olympic dream,” he said when this correspondent asked about his health following the accident.

Usman would already have been an Olympian by now along with his former horse “Azad Kashmir” if there was no COVID-19 pandemic that brought everything to a halt and delayed the Tokyo Olympics.

The Australia-based equestrian had already confirmed his berth to the Tokyo Olympics with Azad Kashmir on a minimum eligibility requirement (MER) basis. But Olympics were delayed due to a pandemic and “Azad Kashmir” passed away in September.

Usman then had to enter the qualification round once again as it was mandatory for one to enter the Olympics as a rider-horse team.

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) had then told him to do five rounds of qualifications with the new horse. He had previously, with Azad Kashmir, done 12.

“After the death of horse Azad Kashmir, I had to complete five MERs with Kasheer as a new combination, we had already done three and had almost won the fourth,” he said.

“We don't have to start from scratch because I was able to get three MER with Kasheer, which means I might need far less MER now to qualify,” he added.

Usman is expecting a final word on this from FEI in the next couple of days and whatever the new target he gets, he will have to do it before June 21 to retain his place in Olympics.

And, for that he will need a new horse, a 4-star one to enter Olympic qualification.

This all will be a new challenge for him. He had previously contacted the Government in Pakistan for some support after Azad Kashmir’s death, but he regrets the treatment he received from the IPC ministry.

He recalled that he had already suggested the ministry arrange a backup horse after the death of Azad Kashmir to avoid any last-minute problem but the response he received was disappointing.

“I have spoken to the IPC minister twice. Even gave Azam Dar (director in PSB) an invoice for backup in Jan 2021. The backup horse issue has been raised since the death of AK in Sept 2020 but they said, you are competing with one so you don't need another,” he mentioned.

“No funding has been provided. The only political statement that carries no practical weight on a sporting field to purchase an additional horse,” he rued.

But, Usman, is in no mood to give up the hopes to take Pakistan into Olympics.

“Until the last drop,” he responded when Geo asked him how long he will be able to keep Pakistan’s Olympics hope alive on his own.