Anush Agarwalla eyes Paris Olympics after scripting history at Asian Games

Riding Etro, Agarwalla earned a score of 73.030 to secure the third position and bag his second medal of the Asian Games.


Anush Agarwalla eyes Paris Olympics after scripting history at Asian Games

Anush Agarwalla (Image Credits: IOA)

Indians competing in equestrian is not new. What is new is the rise of fresh champions, especially in a discipline like dressage. In the last few days, one boy answering to the name of Anush Agarwalla has been making waves. If the team gold was a delight, on Thursday Anush won bronze in the individual event.

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Born in Kolkata, Anush got his first experience of a horse ride at the age of three, in 2002. At that time, it was more like his parents taking him to the Tolly Club just to get a feel. After all, as Anush explained, his parents put him in sport so that they could get a membership in the club. For that, one person had to take up a sport!

It started as a fun horse ride before Anush started enjoying it. As he grew fond of horses and riding, he was soon juggling between school and weekend trips to Delhi for riding lessons.

Dressage is a technical sport, very nuanced. A rider needs patience and a good coach to help out. Six years ago, Anush decided if he was serious about the sport, he had to make a big decision. That was, move to Germany and start slogging. Life is hard abroad, where man and horse are going through the paces over and over again.

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Anush Agarwalla’s result due to the collective efforts of family and team

In Paderborn, Germany, Anush found in coach Hubertus Schmidt the right guide. The rest is history. “To be honest, the feeling of gold has not sunk in. First gold and then a bronze, this is all what I wanted, what I always visualized,” said Anush, excited and emotional.

Life is hard, man and horse, training non-stop. Getting it right is not easy, though the experience of competing in the World Equestrian Games last year stood Anush in good stead. “All this (success) has not come overnight, I have worked hard for years. There has been sacrifice of my family and my coach. All this would not be possible without their support,” said Anush. They must have already blown away a pile of Euros.

Anush Agarwalla Asian Games (1)
(Image Credits: IOA)

Winning one medal is big, two is a delight. Anush says this medal means a lot to India and how more riders can take to this sport. In the last Asian Games in 2018 in Jakarta, it was all about Fouaad Mirza, again a privateer who was supported by Jitu Virwani of the Embassy Group in Bengaluru.

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This time, Anush’s family is behind him and all the expenses, which run into millions of Euros. For a rider to get a good horse is not easy. The costs are prohibitive and sponsors are alien to this sport in India. He has a romance with his mount Etro, something new. ”We have been together only from February and done seven or eight events,” said Anush.

Anush Agarwalla Asian Games
Anush Agarwalla (Image Credits: IOA)

Anush has got his highs and medals. Hopefully, the Sports Ministry will recognize his efforts and give him at least an Arjuna Award or even the Khel Ratna for his two medals. There are a few athletes who have done well this time in Hangzhou, with multiple medals. Glory will be short-lived, for riders are not cricketers who hog the limelight.

Anush will return to Germany and train. The next goal will be qualifying for the Paris Olympics. Having competed with the best in the business in the World Equestrian Games last year, he knows what the competition is like. For a nation starved of Olympic heroes, the dream begins for Anush. Dress up, wear the riding gear, and be ready for dressage. If you want to know what it really is, watch a few YouTube videos, man and mount, and the magic they create.

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