Asian Games 2018 medallist Ashish Malik calls for better promotion of equestrian in India
The journey of the Indian equestrian team in the last couple of months has been nothing short of fascinating. In June, news broke that India will not be fielding any team for Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta due to selection issues and it looked like the five-month practice of the riders will go in vain.
However, the team was finally selected just days ahead of the deadline and the eventing team of Ashish Malik, Rakesh Kumar, Jitender Singh and Fouaad Mirza ended up winning a historic silver medal.
It was a huge moment for Indian equestrian whose last Asian Games silver medal came way back in 1982. Over the years, the sport barely managed to produce medals in the continental tournament and with the sport not getting much prominence, majority of the participants came from the army.
Following their successful run in Jakarta, rider Ashish Malik believes that this win can be a huge boost for the sport in India and the authorities need to promote equestrian in order to increase their talent pool.
“The Asian Games medal can be huge for the sport in India. It is about time that the authorities think seriously about promoting equestrian. We have a league for the sport and a better understanding of the sport will result in recruiting more competitors,” Malik told Hindustan Times from Jakarta.
Malik, who took up equestrian during his school days, was part of the three-man team which was sent to France for training ahead of Asian Games 2018. Under the guidance of two-time Olympian Rodolphe Scherer, the trio trained for seven months and he credited the Frenchman for their success.
“It was an out of the world feeling to win a medal. But there are many who are behind this medal; we have been trained by Rodolphe Scherer for the last seven months.
“We also got a lot of support from private sponsors. They really helped us in getting competitive horses, sponsoring the team, sending us to France. They have helped the sport grow in the country. I am also thankful to the federation, Indian army and our trainer for helping us in this journey,” he added.
With Asian Games out of the way, the focus shifts to the Olympics for Malik and his teammates but the rider from Rohtak is cautious when it comes to predicting their show in Tokyo 2020. The trials for the Olympics will begin in October 2019, but Malik believes that India need more time to reach that level.
“It will take minimum 5-6 years to win an Olympic medal. We are riding one star and the Olympics are at least four stars and we need to keep competing with the best of the world in order to improve,” he said.