“India’s Remarkable Asiad Gold in Dressage: A Tale of Triumph Over Adversity – From Sacrificing Homes to Buying Horses and Living in Remote Villages Abroad, the Journey of Dedication and Crores in Investment”

“India’s Remarkable Asiad Gold in Dressage: A Tale of Triumph Over Adversity – From Sacrificing Homes to Buying Horses and Living in Remote Villages Abroad, the Journey of Dedication and Crores in Investment”

“The Indian gold medal-winning team captured striking photographs during the awards ceremony for the equestrian dressage team event at the 19th Asian Games held in Hangzhou, China, on Tuesday, September 26, 2023. (Image source: PTI)

Hangzhou |  September 27, 2023

Before reaching the pinnacle of their success, they had to overcome a multitude of obstacles. The journey involved the painful decision to sell a house to finance their careers, enduring ridicule at fundraising meetings, facing closed doors, and nearly missing out on the Asiad due to federation policies.

On a day filled with unexpected silver and comforting bronze medals, both achieved in sailing, India clinched a remarkable gold in an event that had seen no Indian success for decades. Notably, there wasn’t even an Indian team in this particular discipline at the previous Asian Games.

Sudipti Hajela, Divyakriti Singh, Hriday Chheda, and Anush Agarwalla were not even born when India last secured a gold medal in equestrian or when the country last medaled in their specific event, dressage.However, these riders, all in their early 20s, exhibited remarkable harmony with their horses, defying all odds and exceeding even their own expectations. This victory marked India’s first gold in equestrian at the Asian Games since 1982 and the first dressage medal since 1986 when the country secured a bronze. The journey to this historic podium finish was strewn with formidable challenges.The sacrifices made by everyone along this journey now seem worth it,” remarked Divyakriti, 23. Sudipti, the team’s youngest member at 21, added, “The positive aspect was that we faced it all together, staying focused and determined.”

These self-funded athletes have spent years away from their families, residing in distant foreign villages where stables became their homes. They persevered through personal setbacks and legal battles, all in pursuit of reaching Hangzhou for the Asian Games.

Operating away from the spotlight, the quartet arrived without any lofty expectations. However, much like the discipline of artistic gymnastics, where athletes must execute moves based on predetermined difficulty levels, the riders and their horses showcased remarkable flexibility, athleticism, and obedience. This exceptional performance stunned the home-favorite team from China and heavyweight competitors Japan and South Korea.

Arjuna Awardee and three-time Asiad medallist Rakesh Pattu hailed this achievement as a milestone for equestrian sports in India. “Defeating China in their own country, especially in dressage, is a monumental accomplishment. It’s even more significant considering the challenges these riders faced, including funding constraints and selection issues with the federation.”

This gold medal victory, while historic, came at a substantial personal cost for these dedicated athletes.

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