As another lockdown looms in Germany, Fouaad Mirza waits for FEI's list on Thursday to plot future
Even if international equestrian meets have been few and far in between amid the pandemic, the two-time Asian Games medallist has been taking part in many national meets across Germany.
CHENNAI: On Wednesday, Fouaad Mirza will have that familiar feeling all over again. With Germany going into a hard lockdown again, most establishments save for essentials will be shut for the best part of a month till the second week of January. This time, however, there isn't that sense of panic which was there in March and April. "We are going into a hard lockdown from Wednesday," he tells this daily. "But unlike in March and April, that sense of panic isn't there.
That time people didn't know how long it would last. That isn't there now." The 28-year-old, who lives in a small town in Lower Saxony, says his training won't be affected because of the new lockdown but 'national shows will be cancelled'. "I had one event this weekend but I think that will be cancelled because of the lockdown." Even if international equestrian meets have been few and far in between amid the pandemic, the two-time Asian Games medallist has been taking part in many national meets across Germany. "I have taken part in many meets over the last few months, but they don't really matter points wise."
They are essentially training meets for what lies ahead. "The FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports) is coming out with a list of shows that have Minimum Eligibility Requirements (Mirza still has to meet Minimum Eligibility Criteria by participating in one MER event to qualify for the Olympics) this Thursday. After I see that list, I will sit down and plan the beginning of 2021." He was considering travelling to an event in The Netherlands that had MER but that was skewered by the pandemic.
Now, meeting an MER sounds an easy enough task but when he explains what it entails, the obstacles in front of him sounds substantial. "MERs are only there in the highest class of meets. I don't get one just because I take part in an event offering an MER. I still have to clear all three disciplines (dressage,
cross-country and show jumping) without losing many in the way of penalties. If I concede points in even in one discipline, I will have to take part in another competition that has MER." Right now, he has zeroed in on a meet in Italy in the month of March that has MER.
"I have planned to go to Italy for a meet in March, the sooner I finish it off, the better it will be, I don't want to keep pushing it. When FEI puts out the list on Thursday, I will have a better idea of the event(s) I can go to, it is a big process considering the travel and the expense involved."
In the short-term, though, he is planning to go grocery shopping on Tuesday as another lockdown awaits.