Monday, July 26, 2010

Ready for the tough ride to glory

Nidhi Dev’s passion for horses gradually turned her into an ardent fan of equestrian. That huge interest, coupled with her attitude, made the talented Bangalorean one of the best riders in the country. Now Nidhi, who has come up with strong performances in international competitions, is hoping her recent good show would help her earn a place in the Indian equestrian squad for the Asian Games later this year.

Nidhi, who is one of the very few female riders in eventing — a combination of dressage, showjumping and cross country — said she expects to make it to the national team for the November 12 to 27 Games in Guangzhou, China.

“Asian Games is a good platform to showcase one’s talent. More than that winning a medal for India is my top priority. I think my performances in eventing meets in Australia would help me to gain a place in the national team,” said Nidhi at an event to announce her association with Jus Booster Juice.

The 22-year-old Nidhi won the Asia-Pacific Equestrian Challenge in Sydney in September before coming up with a steady show in five other international meets in Australia.
“After my victory in the Asia-Pacific Challenge, I took part in five more competitions. My best performance came in the Campden International where I finished sixth among Olympians and world champions,” said Nidhi, who is doing her post-graduation in psychology at the University of Western Sydney.

Nidhi said she has already attained the minimum Asian Games qualifying standard for eventing — not more than 75 penalties in dressage, 12 in showjumping and 20 in cross country — but felt disappointed when her name didn’t feature in the probables list announced by the Equestrian Federation of India. “Even though I have met the qualifying standard, my name is not even in the probables list for the Games. I was totally disappointed, so I filed a case in the High Court of Karnataka. I am waiting for the court order,” said Nidhi.

Nidhi feels training under Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medallist Stuart Tinney has moulded her into a top-class rider. “I am training under Tinney from 2007. He helped me to become a good rider. I think it is the best coaching I can ever get in any part of the world,” said Nidhi, who owns geldings King, Rio and Time For Change.

Nidhi stresses on the importance of training aboard. “In India we have only few events. But in foreign countries, especially in Australia, we have international meets every month and many state-level events. These events help you to be in good shape. More importantly, we get chances to compete with world class riders,” said Nidhi, whose next big assignment will be the Sydney International Equestrian tournament in August.

Nidhi, who took up equestrian at the age of 11, had won the CSI ‘Y’ showjumping for international riders held at the Embassy International Riding School in the City two years ago. “I took to equestrian as a hobby. First I used to do showjumping. Then after a few competitions, I started to do eventing, which I enjoys a lot,” said Nidhi.

“I joined Princess Equestrian Academy in Palace Grounds and after three months of training I went for the National championship. I won several medals at national level meets for seven years. But I felt the need for advanced training, so three years back, I went to Australia for advanced training under Tinney,” added Nidhi.

For an expensive sport like equestrian, family support is vital. Sponsorship too plays a big role.

“My mother (Harshini Dev) is financing most of my expenses . But now I have to look for a sponsor because this sport is very expensive. Now I have struck this deal and I need more such sponsors for staying in the sport for a longer period.”
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