The Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) picked Anush Agarwalla to represent the country at the upcoming Paris Olympics in the Dressage event. After a careful evaluation of the contenders’ recent performances, he pipped close contender Shruti Vora on a better average.

Anush Agarwalla

It will be India’s first-ever entry at the Olympics’ Dressage event, as most riders in past editions competed in Eventing categories only.

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Agarwalla has been consistent since the Qualification period began last year and achieved Minimum Eligibility Requirement four times while veteran Shruti Vora earned the required two MERs this month.

When the contenders’ averages were taken out in the assessment, Anush emerged as the winner. His average score of 67.695 %was better than Shruti’s 67.163 %.

As per the Federation’s criteria, a rider-horse combination must achieve a minimum of 67% twice between January 1, 2023, and June 24, 2024, to be eligible for the Paris Games qualification.

According to EFI selection criteria, if more than one athlete is eligible then the athlete with the highest average in Grand Prix out of the best four events in the past one year shall be chosen to participate. Scores at only FEI level competitions 3* and above are counted. These scores have to be achieved at shows from 2023 to 2024 list of MER events.

Shruti (with horse Magnanimous) had earned her second MER of the year with her second-place finish at the Brno Grand Prix in Czech Republic, where she scored 68.174 in the Dressage event, there by becoming eligible for Olympic qualification.

Shruti had earned her first MER early this month when she became the first Indian rider to win a three-star Grand Prix event Dressage World Cup, held in Lipica, Sloevania with 67.761. Her other two GP performances had scores of 66.543 % and 66.174 % which were below MER level.

Anush Agarwalla achieved MERs four times – 67.936% (Wiesbaden, May 2024), 68.261 % (December 2023 in Mechelen), 67.152 % (December 2023 in Frankfurt), and 67.804 % (October 2023 in Wroclaw).

The Executive Council took the decision unanimously, and the President put his stamp on this decision.

Fouaad Mirza had represented India at the 2020 Tokyo Games. Before him Imtiaz Anees competed in 2000 Sydney Games while Indrajit Lamba took field in 1996 Atlanta Games. Jitendrajit Sngh Ahluwalia, Hussain Singh, Mohammed Khan and Darya Singh had all competed at the 1980 Moscow Games.