The story of an Indian equestrian rider and his Olympic dream
My heart was pounding as the starter began the countdown: ‘10–9–8–7—’
This was the most exciting moment of my life—the realization of my boyhood dream and the culmination of many hours of hard work, figuring out how to tackle whatever obstacles the course threw at me.
I was where thousands of eventing riders around the world dreamt of being. At the greatest sporting event in the world—the 2000 Sydney Olympics—and ready to start the cross-country event.
‘6–5–4–3—’ the countdown continued, and then it was ‘2–1’ and off we went! Spring Invader, my horse, leapt forward on cue and we were thundering down the course, while I had thoughts for nothing but the first jump coming up and getting the take-off and landing right.
This is the story of a young boy with an impossible dream—competing at the Olympics. From the age of four, Imtiaz Anees took to horse-riding like fish to water. It soon became a passion, one that continued through his life, beginning with his first competitive win at the age of six, eventually winning multiple equestrian events both nationally and internationally. Imtiaz is the only Indian rider to complete an equestrian three-day event at the Olympics, in Sydney in 2000, at the age of thirty, in an elite sport long associated with royalty and wealth and primarily the army in India.
In Riding Free, Imtiaz re-traces the major milestones of his riveting twenty-year-long journey. The stories he tells are heartfelt, emotional and inspirational for the next generation of dreamers—a way to ‘give back’, in small measure, the enormous goodwill and help he received from all kinds of people in his Olympics journey. Behind Imtiaz’s success are also the struggles and setbacks that pushed him to work harder and achieve peak performance. In a sport where the result depends on both man and animal, the deep bond Imtiaz shares with his horses will leave animal lovers spellbound. Here is a story that will inspire every athlete to ‘never give in’