Usman gets injured, horse dies close to finish line in Olympic qualifier

May 18, 2021

KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier equestrian Usman Khan was critically injured while his horse Kasheer died in a serious incident at the FEI Naracoorte Horse Trials CIC-4* Olympic Games Qualifiers...

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KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier equestrian Usman Khan was critically injured while his horse Kasheer died in a serious incident at the FEI Naracoorte Horse Trials CIC-4* Olympic Games Qualifiers in Australia on Sunday.

‘The News’ learnt that Usman received multiple external and internal injuries. He is being monitored for internal bleeding. When the incident happened Usman was taken to Naracoorte Hospital but the hospital lacked X-Ray machines and scanners. He was then shifted to Mount Gambier Hospital in South Australia.

After initial treatment, he was discharged on Sunday evening. His condition was out of danger. “Usman Khan, the rider, transported to hospital yesterday following the incident at the Naracoorte Horse Trials Event was discharged from hospital last evening,” Equestrian Australia (EA) said. “The horse Usman was riding called ‘Kasheer’ (aka Benny), passed away from a proximal cervical fracture,” EA added.

After a superb dressage test which put Usman and Kasheer in third place the duo did equally well in showjumping with only one rail. This placed the Pakistan combination in the second spot before going into the cross country. It was also Pakistan’s highest-ever position after two phases at an Olympic Qualifier in the 73 years long history.

A few days ago Usman had set a national record at the CIC 4* dressage in Sydney. Pakistan’s win was within reach as the combination commenced the cross country. A national record was in sight and possibly a new chapter in the international equestrian history was about to be written. Clear round would mean they would become the first Pakistani to win an Olympic Qualifier, the first ever in the Southern Hemisphere. They would also become the first Asian and Middle Eastern rider to win in Australia. They soared together and cleared all hurdles. The rhythm of the duo was so good that they averaged a pace of 35 kilometre per hour and 570 mps.

A new chapter of Pakistan was about to unfold. They were 50 metres away from the finish line with only one fence to clear, a record in sight, and Olympic qualification at stake. Usman and Kasheer jumped the last fence and cleared it. Kasheer hit his right knee on take-off. There was no FEI safety pin system at the Naracoorte at CIC4* level. Had there been this system the top rail would have given way. The duo tragically fell metres from the finish line after clearing the last fence. Usman fell so close to the finish line that he wanted to crawl towards it. Kasheer had a rotational fall and landed on his neck. Within 30 seconds the local vet reached. Kasheer sadly died on impact.

Usman fell head down and Kasheer landed on him. “He was unconscious for two to four minutes. When he regained consciousness the first thing he asked was the welfare of Kasheer,” an eye witness said.

“Allah is our witness. We tried. We are not afraid of death. I do this for Pakistan and for my people,” Usman told ‘The News’. “Kasheer was a six figure dollars investment. It’s not about money but about having lost another teammate. It’s really sad,” Usman said.

“I am so sorry that I could not bring joy to Pakistanis. I am sorry and take responsibility,” said Usman, barely able to talk. “Kasheer had full faith in me and he cleared the last fence. I feel I let him down. He died saving me, he died for Pakistan. That’s so tragic when unconditional love is given by your partner and he dies,” said Usman.

“I am still alive and so is the Olympic dream and it shall be until the last drop,” he said. “I urge the Pakistan government not to take us for granted. Don’t throw a rule book at us,” Usman said.

“We have given blood, sweat, tears and life for the Olympic goal. Why don’t you support us?” the rider questioned. “Political statements or suggestions to present an award does not comfort us. We have a strong case at a medal. This is high time to rethink about our loyalty,” Usman said.

He created history to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2019 through his partner Azad Kashmir but AK died last year. He managed Kasheer following some great efforts without any state help, rekindled Pakistan’s Olympic hopes but at the crucial stage Sunday incident happened.

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