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May 10, 2021

Usman completes Olympic qualifying event in Sydney

 
May 10, 2021

KARACHI: His Olympics fate yet unknown, Pakistan’s premier equestrian Usman Khan on Sunday completed the Olympic qualifying event in Sydney in which he also created a new dressage national record.

He finished eighth in dressage with a 32.60 score, surpassing his previous best score of 35.1 which he had registered with his horse Azad Kashmir, which died last year.

Besides a superb show in dressage, Usman and his horse showed good guts in cross country. They faced hiccups in show jumping before eventually finishing 15th in the event in which some top Olympians of Australia featured.

Usman has now filed a request with the organisers to hold a qualifying event for him in Melbourne in the first week of June. He still has some Olympics hope.

Usman and AK had created history when the pair qualified for this year’s Tokyo Olympics in 2019. After the death of Azad Kashmir Usman had to retain his seat with a new horse. After deciding to withdraw on the opening day from the previous event last month in New South Wales due to high temperature of his horse it was not easy for the pair to impress in Sydney but they finished the event with some grace, although without achieving an MER.

“The outcome on day one was good as the score in dressage was my personal best and I am sure it is a national record,” Usman told ‘The News’ from Sydney on Sunday.

“It was a nice go at the four-star course, especially after an event last month where we had to withdraw on the first day as the horse had turned very hot,” Usman said. “We got eighth position in dressage which featured Australian Olympians and I think it was very nice. It was also well-acknowledged by the Australian press here,” the rider said.

“It was a course of the Olympic level. It was 4.5 star. They had designed it technically in order to provide some solid training opportunities to the Australian Olympians who are part of the Australia Olympic contingent for the Tokyo Olympics,” Usman said.

“We are facing issues because of our inexperienced combination as we were competing at this level for the first time together,” Usman said. “It was a new course but thanks God we went clear. A quarter of the course had been eliminated. We were slow but we went as per strategy. The weather conditions were muddy due to rain and flooding and the idea was to go slow but to play safe cards,” he said.

“On day three today I believe we had three to five rails fallen during the show jumping. The horse was a little tired and I also made a few mistakes and I take the responsibility,” Usman said. “I don’t think that it is considered an MER but we have completed the event and finished at the 15th spot. And I can say that position-wise it is not bad,” he said. “I have filed a request for another qualifying event where I could try to achieve MER in the first week of June before the June 23 deadline. We are waiting for the response,” the rider said.

“I thank the Equestrian Federation of Pakistan (EFP) for extending support to me during the last four months,” he said. “Also something to reconsider for IPC and the PSB is that due to lack of back-up horse we faced several issues. Had I had a back-up horse I could have featured in another qualifying event next week. But because of this issue I have to rest for two weeks and then wait for another event which as a professional I think is not easy,” Usman said. “With the back-up horse your chances double. Six months ago when AK died we could not even think that we would campaign for the Olympics. I had no resources, no horse and no sponsor. But thanks God resources were created and during the last four months I kept featuring here and there in the qualifying events. It’s a miracle for us to even come to this level. I will try during the next three to four weeks. Had I got resources this could have been a realistic task,” Usman said.