Equestrian Usman included in elite pool by PSB

KARACHI: The country’s premier equestrian Usman Khan has been included in the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) elite pool which carries the super athletes of the state.

A senior official of the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) confirmed to ‘The News’ on Monday that Usman has been inducted in the elite pool, whose athletes will be backed by the Board directly and through corporate sector.

“Yes, Usman has been inducted into the elite pool. He came here a few months ago and had a meeting with the former IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza,” PSB Director General Col (retd) Asif Zaman told ‘The News’. “He is a fine athlete and deserved inclusion in the pool. Our main aim is to do branding of all those athletes who will be in the elite pool, especially the athletes who are delivering well in international circuit. I also urge the corporate sector and big companies to come forward and back our leading players of various disciplines so that they could earn laurels for the country,” said Asif, a former Asian junior squash champion.

“The Board will also help these athletes by rewarding them with cash incentives on their achievements in international circuit,” he was quick to add. Asif said that the PSB also plans to invite Equestrian Federation of Pakistan (EFP) to discuss with it various matters regarding Usman.

Melbourne-based Usman has achieved some big milestones during the last few years, having gained Olympics qualifications twice besides qualifying for the Asian Games three times. Recently he showed his class and made it to the Asian Games which were postponed indefinitely by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) the other month.

Usman qualified for the last year’s Tokyo Olympics but his horse Azad Kashmir died and he had to go for another qualification. In the Olympics qualifiers in Australia last year, he met with an accident when his horse Kasheer died just before finish line, leaving Usman critically injured in a nasty fall. The accident prevented the country’s hero from featuring in the Tokyo Olympics.

Usman has achieved full fitness and aims to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. He did a glorious job in the 2-star eventing events in Europe recently and also set some national records. In order to reach 4-star Olympic qualification rounds which start in 2023, Usman must compete at 2-star first. It means he will need to have enough MER at 2-star level to qualify for 3-star. Once he reaches 3-star he will have to feature in enough qualification rounds at 3-star level to reach 4-star.

At the 4-star level, Pakistan will need a minimum of two events to secure Olympic Qualification. Pakistan must also be in top-2 in their Olympic Group-F to officially secure an Olympic berth.

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