Equestrian. Showjumper. Leadher.
In this edition of Leadhers Showcase, we are so so proud to feature a world class sportsman who is putting India on the world map. The man with a “never quit“ attitude. Meet, read and get to know Ajai Appachu, Eklavya Award Winner, in his exclusive interview for Leadhers.
Hi, my name is Ajay Appachu. I have Evented and Showjumped for India. I represented India in Eventing at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and finished 6th in the individual category. However, I am a passionate Showjumper and am pursuing it. I won the FEI World Show Jumping Championship 3 times in a row on 3 different horses.I was selected to represent India in Seoul, South Korea for Show Jumping in an International CSI 1*. The Indian team won silver and I won the individual gold for India.I also got selected twice to represent India for the World Show Jumping Finals in both Venezuela, South America and Kyalami, South Africa. I was awarded the Eklavya Award. This was just a good start to a new beginning.Another prestigious event I qualified for and representing India was the ‘World Championship for Young Horses’ in Lanaken, Belgium. I not only qualified on three different horses but was the only rider to have ever qualified.
On being an Equestrian
How did you take up an offbeat sport ?
My father , Maj Gen CJ Appachu, AVSM (Retd) gave me an insight into a lot of sports at a very young age, that has held me in good stead in everything I pursued.
Starting from football where I captained the West Zone Team and also played for the East Zone Team whilst still in school. Side by side I also swam for SAI (Sports Authority of India)Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi. I also learnt a fair bit of gymnastics there. Thereafter, when I was in Senior School I was selected to play cricket for CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal). It was clearly evident by then that my talent and interest was in sports.
My life took a complete turn when my father introduced me to Horse Riding- that was when I fell in love with the sport and there was no going back from that point on. Equestrian sports is an extremely popular sport world wide. It is a highly recognised Olympic sport as well. Unfortunately in India most sports apart from cricket are not recognised. This would hopefully change in the near future.
On gender diversity
How would you encourage girls to take up Equestrian as a sport?
Equestrian is the only sport which has no distinction between men and women , horses and mares. Girls and boys compete and train in equal terms. There is no difference between them and and in every category / level they compete together against one another and also as team mates.
Talking about passion
How do you stay motivated?
I am passionate about horses. My love for this sport and horses is what keeps me motivated.