Back in the saddle


  • Other Sports
  • Friday, 15 Nov 2019

Good news: Qabil Ambak (right) had been going around Europe to compete in equestrian events since the start of the year before being deported. But he is back now.

PETALING JAYA: After deportation from Europe and a night in a Bangkok lock-up, the nightmare is finally over for Qabil Ambak. He can again pursue his quest to become the first Malaysian equestrian rider to compete at the Olympics.

For now, he is off to the holy city of Mecca to perform his umrah pilgrimage.

The Denmark immigration has accepted his appeal to return to Europe.

The Indonesia Asian Games silver medallist had run foul of immigration laws and was forced to cut short his stay in Europe after he was found to have overstayed his visa in last August.

The 39-year-old, who was based in Denmark, had been going around Europe to compete in equestrian events since the start of the year but was deported.

“Wisma Putra spoke to Danish immigration and the police side to expedite my appeal. Otherwise, I would have to wait much longer.

“I was informed of the good news on Tuesday. Basically, they allowed me to return to Denmark but I have to stay within the 90-day per visit limit although the visa is for six months, ” said Qabil.

“I am flying off to Mecca but I plan to return to Europe by Nov 26. I have to reschedule my training plans now and I plan to compete in three international tournaments around Europe – Austria, Germany and Belgium next month.

“I will submit my entry for these tournaments as it will give me a chance to fight for ranking points for the Olympic qualifying campaign.

“I thank the authorities and everyone who helped me put my Olympic dream back on track.”

The Olympic qualifying campaign will end on Dec 31 and Qabil will make the cut for Tokyo if he is one of the top two ranked Asian riders for dressage.

Qabil is now the third ranked Asian rider with 769 points and has to overtake South Korea’s 2014 Asian Games gold medallist Young Shik-hwang (773). New Zealand’s Wendi Williamson (844) is the top ranked rider for Asia.

“I missed three competitions because I was unable to return to Europe. Luckily, I did not fall that far behind.

“The Olympics will be the pinnacle of my career after 25 years in this sport. I have spent a lot of effort and money, so I hope I can win the final battles in Europe.”

On his harrowing experience earlier, Qabil had said he had overlooked the fact that he could not stay for more than 90 days on his earlier six-month visa.

“It was my fault that I overlooked this. The Danish immigration also made a mistake in allowing me to re-enter before realising that I had overstayed my visa, ” said Qabil, who is hopeful things will stay sorted out this time.

The appeal usually takes one to eight months but in Qabil’s case, it has thankfully been fast-tracked to just over two weeks.

“It was an honest mistake, ” said Qabil.

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