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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 31/03/2014
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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) With the inaugural Tent Pegging World Cup set to begin at the Al Rahba Farms in Barka on Monday, Mohammed bin Issa al Fairuz, president of the International Tent Pegging Federation (ITPF), says he hopes to see the sport in Olympic Games one day.


Tent pegging was officially recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) in 1982 when it was included in the Asian Games in New Delhi, India. But since then, it hasn't featured in subsequent editions of the continental Games. The equestrian sport's only other Asian-level appearance came at the second Asian Beach Games in Muscat in 2010.


Fairuz, the first Omani to head a world sports body, is aware of the challenge to get the sport recognised at the top level. And he says he is confident it has the 'right ingredients' to become popular.
Mohd-Issa-al-Fairuz

Mohammed bin Issa al Fairuz

Speaking to Muscat Daily on Sunday, Fairuz said, ''Tent pegging is a very old equestrian sport. It is not an expensive discipline. It mainly tests the skills of the rider. There is no need for expensive infrastructure to host a tent pegging event. Also, it is a viewer-friendly sport. All these elements make it an appealing sport.''


The former chairman of the Oman Equestrian Federation (OEF) added, ''In recent times, tent pegging was included in the 2007 Arab Games in Egypt and the 2010 Asian Beach Games. But it is yet to become a regular sport at the Asian level. Our aim is to convince the OCA to include tent pegging as a regular sport in its continental events - possibly the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games or the Asian Beach Games.''


Fairuz said the ITPF would try to convince the OCA to include tent pegging in the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, which will be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in 2017.


The ITPF top official said, ''Once the OCA makes tent pegging a regular event on its calendar, we will start our campaign to include it in the Olympic Games; that is the ultimate aim of the ITPF. I realise that the journey [to make it to the Olympic fold] is long. But the start has been made in Oman with the hosting of the first World Cup. It is a dream come true for me to hold the World Cup in my home country.''


Fairuz thanked the OEF and the Ministry of Sports Affairs for helping the ITPF in hosting the World Cup, adding, ''Oman is one of the leading countries in promoting the sport. The hosting of the first World Cup underlines Oman's credentials.''


Fairuz recalled that Oman played a key role in helping form the international federation for tent pegging. ''We formally formed the world body on October 27, 2013 in Muscat. It was a proud moment for me, to be elected as its first chairman by 19 member countries,'' he said.


Fairuz, who chaired the world body's executive board meeting in Muscat on Saturday, believes the sport is steadily gaining popularity across the world with three more countries joining the ITPF.


''The applications from Russia, US and Iran were accepted by the executive board on Saturday. And in all likelihood, Afghanistan will be confirmed soon. As of now, the ITPF has 22 member countries,'' he said.


Fairuz hopes India, which has a long association with tent pegging, will also join the ITPF soon.


Fairuz highlighted Oman's 'pioneering role' in developing the sport, adding, ''In 2010, when I headed the OEF, Oman made a request to the world equestrian body, FEI, to form a separate federation for tent pegging. Till then, the FEI had termed it as a regional sport. The FEI officially recognised the sport as one of its disciplines only in 2004. We campaigned hard and got the support from the FEI's 'Group 7' member countries. Eventually, the FEI accepted ITPF as a separate governing body.''


Also, the ITPF's statutes were approved and the executive committee also agreed to host the World Cup annually.


In a bid to ensure that the best teams were selected for the inaugural World Cup, the ITPF hosted two qualifying events - in Sudan and Pakistan, in January and February, respectively.


Oman won the top honours in Pakistan and will fight for the eight medals at stake during the five-day competition.


On Sunday evening, the logo of the World Cup and the official ITPF website were launched by H E Sheikh Saad al Saadi, the Minister of Sports Affairs.


What is Tent Pegging?


In tent-pegging, riders charge at a full gallop across a straight course 130-200m long, holding a lance or sword. The weapon is used to pick up wooden or cardboard pegs stuck in the ground. The pegs are placed 1-2.5m apart, depending on the specific event.


Riders must cover the course at a particular speed with half a point docked as penalty for each extra second taken during the run-in. Riders earn six points for each peg that is carried over a 10m distance when using cardboard and 15m when using wood. Removing a peg, but not carrying it the designated distance earns four points.


Striking a peg but not dislodging it from the ground carries two points. Also, there are several variations to the sport. Variations include rings and peg, where riders must spear two rings before striking a single peg, and lemons and peg, where sword wielding riders slice hanging lemons before strik

 






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