Dublin, 31 July, 2023 (GNP): Usman Khan, the country’s premier eventer, demonstrated unwavering determination and resilience as he successfully secured qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Achieving this milestone at the FEI four-star event in Mallow, Ireland on Sunday, Usman’s remarkable feat marks Pakistan’s entry into the esteemed global sporting extravaganza.
After narrowly missing the opportunity to participate in the Tokyo Olympics despite initial qualification, Usman persevered, undeterred by fate. Following an accident during the Tokyo Olympics Qualifiers in May 2021, he embarked on his journey to another milestone almost two years ago.
The star equestrian’s luck ultimately rested on the Irish soil, where he qualified for the Paris Olympics.
“I have worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone,” said Usman. “Unlike the Tokyo Olympics journey, this time, it was marked by a solid approach, invaluable experience at the highest level of competition, a top-notch coaching team, and, undoubtedly, my exceptional horse, which has been integral to the entire journey,” he added.
The credit goes to the relentless efforts of trainers Pierre DeFrance and Aurelie Riedweg, who have been instrumental in Usman’s preparation over the last one and a half years. With just 12 months remaining until the Olympics, the equestrian seeks the continued support and prayers of the nation.
As the first nation in Group F to secure Olympic qualification, Pakistan celebrates Usman’s triumph as he will be competing at the four-star level for the coming year, striving to maintain his standing.
The road to Olympics qualification demanded a four-star long MER, in addition to four-star short format MER and three-star long format MER, all of which Usman successfully achieved with the grace of Allah.
Usman’s journey to the Olympics has not been without challenges. In 2019, he became the first Pakistani equestrian to qualify for the Olympics, only to face heartbreak when his horse, Azad Kashmir, passed away in September 2020. Determined to continue his journey, Usman partnered with his new horse, Kasheer, but a tragedy struck again during the Olympics Qualifiers in Australia, resulting in Kasheer’s death and Usman’s serious injuries.
“Those were difficult days,” reminisced Usman. “It was extremely difficult to recompose myself, but God helped me and now again we are in the world’s major event,” he expressed gratefully.
Despite this significant accomplishment, Usman acknowledges that the journey is not yet complete. Over the next year, he will face formidable competition from major nations at the four-star level, necessitating even harder work and dedication.