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Australia’s border bans have Pakistan equestrian 'jumping obstacles' for historic Olympic berth

Equestrian Usman Khan Source: Tazzie Eggins

Equestrian competitor Usman Khan already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics but due to the pandemic, the global sporting showpiece has been delayed, and he must qualify again after his beloved horse died suddenly.

The news of fresh coronavirus cases in Australia affects Usman Khan’s preparations on a daily basis.

Over the past few years, the equestrian competitor from Pakistan has been preparing for the Tokyo Olympics in Australia, with a dream to be the first-ever entrant from his country to compete in an Olympic equestrian event.

Based in Victoria, Khan got a chance to participate at the Games when Pakistan received a slot on a quota basis and he qualified after completing the required qualifying rounds.

But like many sporting events that were affected due to the pandemic in 2020, the Games were delayed to next year.

Khan completed the qualifying rounds with his horse 'Azad Kashmir', but in September he announced the tragic passing of the 13-year-old New Zealand thoroughbred from a sudden heart attack during an event in Melbourne.

The devastating loss of his riding partner means that Khan must qualify for Tokyo again, as in equestrian, horses share the equal honour of qualification.

Equestrian Usman Khan hopes to represented Pakistan in Tokyo Olympics 2021
Equestrian competitor Usman Khan hopes to represent Pakistan at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Usman Khan

Khan is now required to complete five rounds for qualification before the deadline of June 23, 2021.

So far, he has completed the first round in the NSW town of Robertson, but he says state border restrictions and protocols mean his upcoming schedule for qualification looks like a "land mine".

His next event is slated for mid-February in Robertson, followed by the event at Wandin in Victoria; which means he may have to submit to 14 days of quarantine.

In April, he's set to travel to Christchurch in New Zealand for the next event, followed by a Sydney meet from May 7-9.

“I have five qualifying rounds in the coming months in Victoria and New South Wales but border restrictions and quarantine requirements make it a big challenge whether I could even participate in them,” Usman told SBS Urdu.

Usman Khan
Equestrian competitor Usman Khan.
Usman Khan

Usman is concerned that this period before the events is similar to "jumping the obstacles" and he hopes to reach his goal of finally participating in Tokyo.

“For me, the most important thing is to bring Pakistan’s name to the forefront at the Tokyo Olympics in equestrian events.” 



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