India Lives Its Asian Dream at Jakarta and Palembang

The 2018 Asian Games brought a flurry of medals for India. From medals in fan-favourite sports like Wrestling, Shooting, Athletics, and Tennis to surprise podium finishes in Bridge, Rowing, and Sepak takraw the Indian contingent won 69 medals, including 15 Golds, 24 Silvers, and 30 Bronze medals and finished eighth on the medal tally. India’s outing in Indonesia has been its most-successful Asian Games campaign. Let’s walk down the memory lane and relive India’s 2018 Asian Games.

Track and Field Athletes Finished First

Indian track and field athletes bagged a rich haul of 19 medals which includes seven Gold medals. Tajinderpal Singh Toor opened India’s tally in athletics with the Gold in Men’s Shot Put. His 20.75 metre throw won him the top-spot comfortably and set a new Games Record. Young Javelin Thrower Neeraj Chopra threw his spear at a distance of 88.06 metres and bagged the Gold, India’s first ever in the event. The second-placed Liu Qizhen of China managed a best throw of 82.22 metres. Seema Punia was expected to finish on the podium in the Women’s Discus Throw and did not disappoint. She finished with the Bronze.

On the track, Dutee Chand staged a stunning comeback after battling to prove her gender prior to the Games, and won two Silvers in 100 M and 200 M events. The recently crowned world U-20 champion Hima Das bagged the Silver in 400 M, her pet event. She was also part of the 4X400 M relay team which retained its Gold from four years ago. India had a one-two finish on the podium in the Men’s 800 M event with Manjit Singh and Jinson Johnson winning the Gold and the Silver medals, respectively. Johnson won his second medal in the Games, a Gold, in the 1500 M. Arpinder Singh bagged the Gold in Men’s Triple Jump event.

The highlight of India’s medals in athletics was, arguably, Swapna Barman’s Gold in Women’s Heptathlon. With six toes on both her feet and nursing a toothache, Barman was visibly in pain throughout the two-days of her event. She often led the event and many a times stood second. However, she finished on top at the end of the seven events with a score of 6062 and claimed a famous Gold.

Shooters Shone at Indonesia

The marksmen brought home an impressive haul of 9 medals with two Golds, four Silver medals, and three Bronze medals. Rahi Sarnobat held her nerve and won the Gold in a nail-biting shoot-off against Thailand’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon in the 25 M Pistol event. After a series of injuries which forced Sarnobat to change her technique, she has come back and bettered her performance from four years ago, where she had finished sixth.
16-year old Saurabh Chowdhary, a debutant at the Asian Games, won the Gold in the 10 M Air Pistol event. India had a twin-podium finish in the event with Abhishek Verma finishing third.
India’s first medal in the Games, a Silver, was won by the duo of Ravi Kumar and Apurvi Chandela in the Mixed 10 M Air Rifle event.

Grapplers’ Glorious Games

After Bajrang Punia opened India’s tally of Gold medals at the Asian Games, Vinesh Phogat created history by winning the Gold in the Freestyle 50 KG event. Her Gold was India’s first in Women’s Wrestling at the Asian Games. She sailed through the first few rounds on technical superiority and broke little sweat in the final where she beat Japan’s Irie Yuki 6-2. Divya Kakran gave India its third medal in Wrestling with a Bronze in Freestyle 68 KG.
A few disappointments came India’s way in Wrestling though. Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar was knocked-out in the first round of his event. Rio Olympic Bronze medallist Sakshi Malik lost her bronze medal bout and heavyweight wrestler Sumit Malik bowed out in the third-place clash of the Men’s 125 KG event.

A Few Pleasant Surprises

A lot of firsts came India’s way at the Asian Games. Amit Panghal delivered the knock-out punch in the Men’s 49 KG Flyweight category in Boxing and bagged the Gold in the event. Arguably one of the best Gold medals for India in the Games, Panghal beat Rio Olympics 2016 champion Hasaboy Dustamov of Uzbekistan in the final bout. Vikas Krishnan won India’s second medal in Boxing, a Bronze.

India won its first ever medal in Sepaktakraw, a Bronze, in the Men’s Team Regu Event at the Asian Games.

India’s Men’s Quadruple Sculls team won the Gold on the final day of Rowing at the Asian Games. On the same day Dushyant Chauhan finished third in Men’s Lightweight Sculls event and the duo of Bhagwan Singh and Rohit Kumar won the Bronze in the Lightweight Double Sculls event.

Saina Nehwal won India’s first individual medal in Badminton after she won the Bronze in the Women’s Singles. PV Sindhu won the Silver in the same event, which was another first for India.

The Indian pair of Pranab Bardhan and Shibhnath Sarkar won the Gold in the Men’s Pair Bridge event, a first for India in the event. Earlier the Indian Men’s team and the Indian Mixed team bagged a Bronze each in Bridge.

In lawn tennis, the Indian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan won the Gold in Men’s Doubles. This Gold was Bopanna’s and Sharan’s first in the Asian Games. In Women’s Singles, Ankita Raina bagged the Bronze and Prajnesh Guneshwaran finished third in the Men’s Singles event.

In Table Tennis, the Indian men’s team won a historic Bronze and in mixed-doubles India’s ageless crusader Sharat Kamal paired up with young champion Manika Batra and they bagged the Bronze in the event.

Indians won four Bronze medals in Wushu, its largest haul in the martial arts at the Asian Games.

With so many firsts for India, one can certainly wonder as to why the Indian football team wasn’t a part of the Asian Games contingent. The All India Football Federation could have done better than disallowing the inter-continental champions a spot in India’s Asian Games contingent.

As the curtains came down on the Asian Games, there is a lot to look forward to for Indian athletes. Youngsters and teenage athletes have performed exceptionally well at the Asian Games and have set their sets on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There is enough talent to nurture and it’s now up to the sports associations in the country to breed and groom this talent to set these athletes up for greater glories.

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