Historic Asian Games feat: Every medal is inspirational, so is this equestrian gold, but the sport calls for more accessibility | Asian Games 2023 News

by Joanne Miller

India’s dressage team has made history at the Asian Games by winning the country’s third gold medal of the Games. The team’s unexpected victory has captured the attention and hearts of many, as they performed ballet on horseback almost 100 kilometers away from where most of the Asian Games activity was taking place.

The Indian dressage team, consisting of Divyakriti Singh, Hriday Chheda, Anush Agarwalla, and Sudipti Hajela, went from being unfamiliar figures to newsmakers overnight. As news channels scrambled for information about the medallists, their background stories, and contact details, the team became household names.

This is the first time in 41 years that the Indian National Anthem played at an equestrian arena at the Asian Games, adding to the significance of their victory. The last time India achieved such a feat was in 1982 when they topped the equestrian podium in three events.

While this gold medal is a remarkable achievement, it is worth noting that equestrian sports require significant resources and opportunities that are not easily accessible in a country like India. The sport demands early training, owning horses, and training abroad, which are often barriers for many aspiring riders.

The Madhya Pradesh State Equestrian Academy in Bhopal is one of the few notable infrastructure developments in India that have made the sport more accessible to those who previously considered it out of bounds. However, accessibility remains a challenge, and outside help is crucial for individuals to pursue equestrian sports.

Despite the challenges and controversies that the Equestrian Federation of India faces, the focus for now is on celebrating the dressage team’s remarkable achievement. Anush, Hriday, Divyakriti, and Sudipti may have clinched the gold medal, but the strong bond within the team is evident, with all four wearing their gold medals proudly.

The victory not only inspires but also emphasizes the need for more support and accessibility in equestrian sports. While the focus is currently on celebrating this momentous achievement, the hope is that more efforts will be made to develop and promote equestrian sports in India, allowing aspiring riders to pursue their passion and fulfill their potential.

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