his week, Jumping took centre stage at the Dream Park Equestrian Centre where Qatar claimed the top step of the team medal podium on Sunday and Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al Sharbatly took the individual title today.
The Asian Games succeeded the Far Eastern Championship Games staged in Manila, the Philippines, in 1913 and the West Asian Games held at New Delhi, India in 1934. The Asian Games Federation was established in 1949, and the Olympic Council of Asia, established in 1982, now oversees this major fixture which embraces 36 separate sports and which this year celebrates its 17th edition.
There were 20 horse-and-rider combinations in today’s individual decider, and this time Al Sharbatly’s 11-year-old bay Hannoverian by Contendro never put a foot wrong to help his rider finish top of the order. It would be a hard-fought affair however, with two separate jump-offs to decide the medals, and a great day for Japan when taking both the silver and bronze.
Only the 32-year-old Saudi Arabian rider and Satoshi Hirao managed to stay clear over the first two rounds. and Al Sharbatly posted yet another clean run at this third attempt in the quick time of 33.64. So when 39-year-old Hirao faulted just once with his 13-year-old Canadian Warmblood, Ulano, the Japanese rider had to settle for silver.
It was another watershed moment for former Arab champion Al Sharbatly who rocketed onto the radar when taking individual silver at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2010 in Kentucky, USA before going on to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s team bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Before the medal ceremony could take place however there was more work to be done as there were eight riders tied on a four-fault tally at the end of round two so another gallop against the clock ensued to decide where the bronze medal would go.
And five horse-and-rider combinations left all the fences in place this time around, but Taizo Sugitani’s super-fast run in 30.95 seconds firmly clinched it for the 38-year-old double-Olympian who finished 10th individually in Kentucky four years ago. Once again it was a case of so near and yet so far for Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum who missed a place on the podium when finishing fourth when just over a second slower than Sugitani in the final round.
Jumping Individual Competition:
Gold – Callahan (Abdullah Al Sharbatly) KSA 0/0/0 33.64
Silver -Ulano (Satoshi Hirao) JPN 0/0/4 39.36
Bronze – Avenzio (Taizo Sugitani) JPN 0/4/0 30.95.