Equestrian Usman makes a super comeback to make it to the Asian Games

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By our correspondent

PARIS: Following a 150-day rehab after getting critically injured during Tokyo Olympics Qualifiers Pakistan’s seasoned equestrian Usman Khan returned to international circuit in style when he on Sunday ended 12th at the FEI CIC 2 Star long format in Paris to qualify for the Hangzhou Asian Games.

This is the third time on trot that Usman made it to the continental spectacle which the other day was postponed by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) due to covid issues in China.

Usman was at the 11th spot at the end of dressage and was at the 21st spot at close of cross country and on Sunday overall finished 12th at the end of showjumping to place Pakistan in the Asian Games. Usman had also qualified for the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games. Usman, who missed the 2020 Olympics spot when he got seriously injured last year in Australia in the Olympic Qualifiers, also set a new national record in dressage.

“Pakistan was placed 11th after dressage in a massive European field, we had kept a low profile in lead up, so there was no pressure. We achieved a national record score in dressage phase. We went clear cross country with six time penalties and one rail in Showjumping. If we didn’t incur time penalties we would be at the podium. That tells your Pakistan has a medal chance InshaAllah. I arrived in Orleans, FRA only ten days before the event (Haras De Jardy),” Usman told this correspondent in a message from Paris.

“I missed the Olympics spot last year due to serious incident during which my horse also died but look God’s miracle that I have come here very close to the 2024 Paris Olympics venue and did a fine job to put Pakistan in the Asian Games. It was the most competitive event and I had come following a massive rehab because of that nasty fall but God Almighty helped me a lot,” said Usman, who also qualified for Olympics twice in the past.

“I am doing what I can for Pakistan through my own resources. There is no support from Pakistan’s government. You know I deserved to earn IOC scholarship for 2024 Paris Olympics but I don’t know why my name is absent from that list. Everyone knows in Pakistan about my achievements and my class as an equestrian but it gives me an immense pain that I have been denied such opportunities,” Usman said.

“From early next year Olympic Qualifiers will also begin and I need a couple of back-up horses. I will need Pakistan’s government support. I have a great chance to not only qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics but to also win a medal in that. I hope Pakistan’s government will back me,” Usman said.

Usman said that he has been in France since February, saying he is doing online job and continuing training at the same time. He created history to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2019 through his partner Azad Kashmir but AK died in 2020. He managed Kasheer following some great efforts without any state help, rekindled Pakistan’s Tokyo Olympic hopes but at the crucial stage the incident happened early last year in Australia during which Usman sustained serious injuries and his horse Kasheer died on the spot just before finishing line.