First Pakistani to Qualify for Olympics in Equestrian Category

Usman Khan has become the first Pakistani to qualify for Olympics in the equestrian category but will he be able to go further?

Elimination of terrorism, poverty, improvement of better health system and emergence of new welfare system must flourish side by side with sports development. Pakistan must not wait to overcome these issues, Pakistan has to progress in world sports and needs to be competitive.

Equestrian was the new buzz. Pakistan vision to secure first equestrian Olympic quota was the benchmark of 73 year long journey.

An unknown 23 year old Pakistani boy in 2005, launched a so-called project with $50, with a goal to take Pakistan equestrian to Olympic Games – something, which was never achieved ever before. What was this kid thinking? A near impossible goal, normally thrived by millions of dollars funding by a state. Saudi Arabia spent approx.+$25 million for the purchase of horses, in order to qualify the national team for London Olympic 2012.

Indeed, the boy’s idea was laughable, mocked and coaches would not train him. His own equestrian skills so feeble, coach quote ‘can’t get any worse than this, only way is up’.

First Pakistani to Qualify for OlympicsUsman Khan: first Pakistani to qualify for Olympics in the equestrian category

Diplomacy in new world order holds very less credibility. The boy who lived through 9/11 in Australia was convinced; Pakistan’s softer image will come through in sports, and he achieved just that by becoming the first Pakistani to qualify for Olympics in the equestrian category.

Australia

Usman Khan started training in Australia, and for the next 15 years, spent everything he had, earned or he could save, on his training and Olympic qualification. As if that wasn’t enough, he put his blood, and sweat into Pakistan’s vision to reach Olympics. He encountered failures, setbacks, financial strife, even broken bones and much more. No life dream comes cheap, and any aspect of equestrianism is not cheap either. In the process introduced different type of riding ‘eventing’ affordable for every class of the society. So Pakistan can begin to create equestrian riders in three Olympic disciplines – dressage, eventing and show jumping.

First Pakistani to Qualify for Olympics in Equestrian Category

By the end of 2019, after struggle of a lifetime, Usman Khan finally made it BIG, as Pakistan equestrian qualified for the Olympiad at Tokyo. This happened after a wait of 73 Years, since Pakistan’s independence in 1947. The Federation Equestrian International (FEI) confirmed Pakistan’s entry to the Tokyo Olympics in Feb 2020. Usman Khan became the first Pakistani to achieve this milestone.

Pakistan Khan, made to the Olympic Team after trying for 15 years.  He is the oldest member of the team.

Rise in World Ranking

Usman remarkable story continue to create shockwaves around the world. After the Olympic qualification, he won two major FEI events after a wait of 13 years. Once ranked at the bottom of the table, Pakistan Khan is now ranked No 1 FEI Eventing Zone Africa and Middle East and ranked No 2 in Olympic Ranking Group F.

Media Shocked – Al Jazeera reported
Pakistan equestrian Usman Khan rides Azad Kashmir to Olympics

This was BIG news, not only in Pakistan but very well reported across international media, with over 300k + followers and growing.
Facebook | YouTube | Instagram

Cost

Having already spent $3mln from his own pocket through this time, Usman Khan still had to leave his well-paid IT consulting career in 2019 to fully focus and prepare for Tokyo 2020.

Azad Kashmir Controversy

In Feb, 2020, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) raised an issue with International Olympic Committee (IOC), about breach of IOC rule-50 and to suspend Pakistani rider. Usman and Azad Kashmir have been competing for 8 months at events where Indian officials were present. Interestingly, this violation was raised only 1 week before FEI announcement of Olympic quota. This was the first time Pakistan was given a quota in equestrian category. IOC through backdoor channels tried to pressurise Usman to change the name of his horse ‘Azad Kashmir’. Usman Khan boldly refuses to accept the rule-50 violation and engages Pakistani and Australian lawyers to address the issue. Ultimately, Usman Khan stood his ground and ‘Azad Kashmir’ name was never changed.

Azad dies

As if all struggles weren’t enough; COVID struck and season to be cancelled. In Sept 2020 there was another huge setback in this journey, as his horse Azad Kashmir in prime form died due to heart failure. As much as it is a great loss for Pakistan Olympic campaign, it is a huge financial burden for the Pakistan Equestrian to continue to prepare for Tokyo Olympics.

Business

This is a game changer for Pakistan Army. Remount Depot Mona, is the largest functional remount installation in the world and is spread over 10,000 acres. If Pakistan can establish dressage and show jumping bloodlines, it will open the nation to untapped market. Most likely to change the breeding industry of the country and provide opportunities to international and local market.

Support factor

It has become a much bigger financial setback for Pakistan, as they are financially stretched and Pakistan Roadmap to Tokyo 2021 requires support from private sector. Government of Pakistan or Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has not acknowledged and supported Usman’s efforts.

First Pakistani to Qualify for OlympicsUsman Khan: first Pakistani to qualify for Olympics in the equestrian category

Imagine, if Usman Khan had a sponsor. Will Pakistan emerge from the shadows, as a strong equestrian nation?

After 15 years of training and performing on foreign soil in isolation he became the first Pakistani to qualify for Olympics in equestrian category. Usman is mostly self-driven and his progressive achievements reflect, he is only getting better.

One thing is for certain. The boy’s vision made him a man today. Pakistan has arrived at World Stage of Equestrian Sports. Alhamdulillah

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For more details, check Press Reports:

Pakistan equestrian Usman Khan rides Azad Kashmir to Olympics
Al Jazeera

Equestrian Usman Khan to take part in Tokyo Olympics
The News International

Pakistan Usman Khan achieves Tokyo 2020 qualification
An-Eventful Life

Pakistani equestrian Usman Khan qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
GEO TV

Pakistan’s Olympic bound horse Azad Kashmir dies
he News International

Usman achieves FEI revised qualification
The News International

Usman undergoing night training to prepare for Olympics
The News International

Usman continues to train for Olympics
The News International

Olympics postponement to hit Pak athletes hard
The News International

Usman determined to take Azad Kashmir to Olympics despite Indian uproar
DAWN

Making us proud
The News International

Usman Khan qualifies for equestrian eventing category in Tokyo Olympics
The News International

First Pakistani athlete to secure Olympic equestrian place could have to requalify after horse dies
Inside The Games

Note: To maintain transparency, we have provided references to news items, results and FEI rankings. If a web link is broken, please report to us.

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