New Delhi, Feb 22 (PTI) He moved to Germany as a 17-year-old to chase his Olympic dreams and equestrian Anush Agarwalla is filled with pride and gratitude after becoming the first ever Indian to fetch a dressage event quota place in this year's Paris Games.

The 24-year-old from Kolkata, who won an Asian Games bronze last year, was three years old when he started riding and at 17, he decided that equestrian would be his calling in life.

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He secured a Paris Olympic quota in dressage based on his good performance in four FEI event -- Wroclaw, Poland (73.485 per cent), Kronenberg, Netherlands (74.4 per cent), Frankfurt, Germany (72.9 per cent), and Mechelen, Belgium (74.2 per cent).

The quota belongs to country and a final decision on who will represent India will be taken after trials.

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"I feel very grateful and proud of this achievement. Being the first Indian ever to secure an individual quota in dressage at the Olympic Games is very special," Agarwalla told PTI Video.

The celebrated Fouaad Mirza had represented India at the 2020 Tokyo Games and before him, Imtiaaz Anees (Sydney 2000), Indrajit Lamba (Atlanta 1996), Jitendrajit Singh Ahluwalia, Hussain Singh, Mohammed Khan and Darya Singh (all Moscow 1980) competed at the Summer Games.

However, they all participated in eventing and Agarwalla will compete in dressage, in which the horse and rider perform a series of movements in a bordered arena. The horse is required to remain within the enclosed area while performing.

Eventing is the equivalent of triathlon in equestrian comprising dressage, cross-country and show-jumping.

"In the past few years, there has been a significant improvement in equestrian sports (in India), especially in dressage. Facilities have emerged, and more people are taking up the sport seriously," he said.

He described the Asian Games, where he also contributed to a team gold, as a pivotal moment in his career and a transformational event for the sport in general.

"The medals at the Asian Games have given a huge push, especially to the younger generations. They now see that achieving success in dressage is not impossible," he said.

"I am very optimistic that dressage will reach new heights in India. The sport is gradually gaining attention, and I believe more Indians will take up the challenge and achieve high levels in the coming years," the Arjuna awardee added.

Reflecting on the period from 2019, when he missed the cut for Olympic qualification, to the present, Agarwalla said he focussed on the positives and managed to steer himself out of the disappointment.

"The immediate feeling was disappointment. Mentally, it felt like a failure. But with the support of my family, friends, and coach Yuga Dushmit, I turned it into motivation," he said.

"I took the disappointment as motivation to work on myself and my horse, ultimately achieving the results we have in the past few months."

Agarwalla shed light on his experience in Germany, where equestrian sports, especially dressage, is popular.

"Germany has been building this sport for decades, and they have top-notch facilities nationwide. It's like playing cricket in India; equestrian sports are a huge deal in Germany," he said.

He emphasized the need for improved facilities in India and expressed confidence that the situation is evolving positively.

"People are taking more initiatives to develop better facilities, and with Western influence, the sport will undoubtedly flourish in the upcoming years," he said.

"To be praised by leaders like Anurag Thakur is very encouraging. These moments make you proud and reinforce the feeling that the whole country is supporting you."

When asked about the prospect of competing in the Paris Olympics, Agarwalla could not hide his excitement.

"The feeling will be something I've never experienced before. Competing in the Olympics, being the first Indian in dressage – it's truly special, and I am looking forward to it," he signed off.

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)