Indian tent pegging team create rare history in Abu Dhabi event

Indian tent pegging team create rare history in Abu Dhabi event

By SAJI CHACKO | NEW DELHI | 19 December, 2015
Members of the triumphant Indian equestrian team after their title win in Abu Dhabi.
In a major achievement, the Indian Tent pegging team emerged champions in the second round of the World Cup qualifiers in Abu Dhabi earlier this week. This was the first time that the Indian team emerged triumphant in a major world level tournament and also helped them clinch a berth in the World Cup to be held in Egypt in April 2016. This triumph also marked the first time India qualified for the World Cup. The Indian team comprised of Ajay Sawant (61st Cavalry), Jaswinder Singh of BSF, Pardeep Kumar and Suresh Kumar (Haryana Police) and W. Lammaty (Assam Rifles).
What made the Indian victory all the more creditable was the fact that they were trailing hosts UAE by a big margin on the second day. But then a great fightback on the third and final day saw  the Indian riders bring out their best. “The sheer determination we showed on the final day was quite remarkable,” said Ahmad Afsar the coach of the Indian team.
Not surprisingly, Ahmad was a delighted man with his team’s efforts. “I cannot tell you how happy I am with the show of our boys. To qualify for the World Cup is a dream come true and I am really proud of our boys. I think they showed the spunk and character which was required to triumph in a tournament which had the likes of Australia and the UAE,” he said.
Ahmad said the team had worked very hard. “Our boys had worked very hard in the build up to the championships. The Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) had done a very good job in selecting the best available team. And let me tell you that the team had a very good intensive training session,” he said.
Once the team reached Abu Dhabi, there were a couple of accidents involving riders from Australia and Bahrain as the Indian riders went about their practice sessions in the right earnest.The Indian campaign got off to a great start when Jaswinder Singh bagged the gold in the Individual Lance. In the second competition, of paired tent pegging, Jaswinder Singh along-with Ajay Sawant, who had arrived only in the morning because of visa issues and was unable to even get a practice run, bagged a gold medal in the paired event.
On the second day, India got a Gold Medal in Individual Sword by Ajay Sawant in a nail-biting finish.  In the second competition of the day, the Indian File, India were pushed back by UAE at the second spot and were able to get a silver medal for the team of four riders.
At the end of the second day, India was placed 23 points behind UAE which was a huge margin. Ahmad Afsar said the Indians were confident of winning the title despite lagging behind. “We all knew that we had to come up with a superlative show on the third day to emerge champions –something which they did  to perfection. “Team Lance was our strength and we hoped to get as many points in this event,” he added.
As per plans The Indians earned the full score in the Team Lance event which saw them minimized the lead to just 2 points. In the Rings & Peg competition, Suresh Kumar bagged a gold medal, taking India’s lead to 23 points. On the final day India clinched a Silver Medal in the Team Sword event and the overall points tally to be 28 points ahead of the nearest rival team UAE and 98 points ahead of Australia.
Col. R.K. Swain, Secretary General , Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) showed his happiness over India’s triumph and personally went to the airport to receive the Indian team. Lt. Gen. R.V. Kanitkar, President EFI called the team manager and Coach along-with the team for congratulating the team over tea. The Sports Minister Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal also congratulated the team at his residence and wished them success in the upcoming World Cup.
Team members Suresh, Jaswinder and Ajay were thankful to coach Ahmad Afsar, for mentoring them for bagging Individual Gold Medals in the World Cup Qualifiers.
Ahmad Afsar said that he was confident that India could win the World Cup but at least a month of rigorous training is required for the team especially in the Sword event. He was very appreciative of Equestrian federation of India President and Secretary General who were in just three months in office have rejuvenated the EFI and enthused a new fervor in the neglected sport.
 

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