Karachi – Sports Reporter:
Pakistan’s top equestrian and the country’s only four-star rider Usman Khan was only few meters away from retaining his place in Tokyo Olympics when he met an accident during qualifying round in Australia.
Usman received serious injuries in the accident while his horse “Kasheer” passed away.
Usman suffered head trauma and reported dizziness, while his ribs were bruised and slurred his words but was 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 at halt and delayed the Tokyo Olympics.
The Australia-based equestrian had already confirmed his berth to the Tokyo Olympics with Azad Kashmir on MER basis. But Olympics were delayed due to 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 death of horse Azad Kashmri had I had to complete 5 MERs with Kasheer as 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 3 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 IPC ministry.
He recalled that he had already suggested the ministry to arrange a backup horse after death of Azad Kashmir to avoid any last-minute problem but the response he received was disappointing.
“I have spoken to IPC minister twice. Even gave Azam Dar (director in PSB) an invoice for back up in Jan 2021. Backup horse issue has been raised since 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. Only political statement that carries no practical weight on sporting field to purchase 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 asked him how long he will be able to keep Pakistan’s Olympics hope alive at his own.