Asian Games 2018: An analysis of India's overall performance
What were you doing when you were 16? Studying? Watching TV? Playing Video games?
A 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary got India its 3rd Gold medal at the recently-concluded Asian Games 2018. He shot a Games record of 240.7 in the final of the men's 10m air pistol event.
Our youngsters led from the front and showed how it is to be done. Shardul Vihan, just 15, won silver at the Double trap shooting event and Lakshay Sheoran won silver in the men’s trap event.
India eventually finished 8th in the Medals tally with 69 Medals 15 Gold, 24 Silver and 30 Bronze medals.
From spending more time in clinics than ranges because of a freak accident, Rahi Sarnobat claimed India’s second gold medal in Women’s 25m Pistol shooting event. She also etched her name in record books as the first Indian woman shooter to clinch an Asian Games gold medal.
The women’s hockey team converted the Bronze won in 2014 to Silver in 2018, whereas the women’s squash team beat Malaysia to reach the final, where they lost to Hong Kong
A list of the firsts for India at the Asiad 2018
i) A Bronze in Table Tennis Men’s Team event along with a bronze in mixed doubles
ii) Jinson Johnson’s gold was the first 1500m medal in 20 years, while Manjit Singh’s 800m gold was possible after 32 years
iii) Arpinder Singh’s triple jump gold came after 48 years.
iv) First Individual medals for India in Badminton; A Silver for Sindhu, Bronze for Saina
v) Vinesh Phogat clinched gold in the women’s freestyle 50kg category and became the first Indian female wrestler to win Gold at the Asiad
vi) Fouaad Mirza ended India’s 36 years of wait to win an individual medal in the equestrian event since 1982.
vii) Silver in 49er FX Women (Varsha/ Sweta); Bronze in 49er Men (Ashok/ Chengappa) Bronze in Open Laser 4.7 (Harshita)
viii) Neeraj Chopra winning Gold in Javelin throw
ix) Swapna Barman won India’s 11th Gold medal and a historic one! first ever Gold medal for India in Heptathlon at the Asian Games. She is only the fifth women to cross 6000 points.
Other Key Highlights
i) Rajat Chauhan, Aman Saini and Abhishek Verma almost won the Gold in compound archery
ii) Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan won the men’s doubles gold, while Prajnesh Gunneswaran won bronze medal in the men’s singles event
iii) Men’s pair of Bridge team won Gold
iv) Though we couldn’t match the boxing performances of the last Asian Games, Amit Panghal beat reigning Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov in the Men's 49kg category to win Gold
v) Dutee Chand, dropped from the 2014 Commonwealth Games on account of having more than the-then prescribed limit of testosterone, won silver medal in both 100metre and 200 metre events
vi) Bajrang Punia won gold in 65 kg freestyle
vii) The Indian equestrian team comprising, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Malik, and Jitender Singh, apart from Mirza, also claimed the silver with a score of 121.30 in the team event.
viii) Six medals, with one silver and bronze came from Kurash, while four bronze medals arrived from Wushu.
i) Men’s Hockey Team
India scored a total of 76 goals and conceded only three goals in five matches at the group stages. Malaysia were never going to be easy, even though we were ranked 5th in the world and they were ranked 12th in the world.
One bad day is enough to take teams out of the tournaments, but I guess nobody expected India to lose a precious gold.
ii) Kabaddi Teams
It's tough to assess this loss, because, on one hand, you are sad that India didn’t win a gold, considering we won every gold medal since the sport was introduced in 1990, but you are also happy that other countries are now catching up.
iii) CWG gold medallist Sathish Kumar Sivalingam, finished 10th in the men’s 77kg weight class
iv) Sushil Kumar, the London Olympics silver medallist was stunned by Bahrain's Adam Batirov in the 74 kg category
v) Performance of men’s singles players in Badminton
Indian men's singles players disappointed at the Asian Games as the top Indian shuttlers, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy were knocked out of the 18th Asian Games following their shock defeats as early as the second round.
All in all, the above losses were more from a complacency factor and we hope they will learn from their mistakes. The hockey team has an important assignment ahead, which is the World Cup in Bhubaneshwar in two months’ time.
Rowers drew blank in four medal events in what was an unexpected and disastrous day for the contingent, but, as the saying goes, “Soldiers never give up," they redeemed themselves by winning a gold and two bronze medals.
We have immense talent in Athletics. It does come down to strategy than simply running, which proved. Galina Bukharina helped India win 6 medals but it was just not the technical side which she helped. The strategy side was critical in India winning those medals.
Everybody talked about Hima Das’s boisterous start to the 4x400 women’s relay, which is true, but another masterstroke was putting 21-year-old Vismaya Koroth at the most critical segment of the race -- the anchor leg.
There Salwa Eid Naser, the Asian queen was to run the final turn of the race, who runs the 400m in 49-odd seconds. Nirmala Sheoran, who ran the final of the women's 400m, was excluded from the race and Bukharina insisted Vismaya to run the relay anchor segment and the rest is history. It was the kind of deception you see in the movies
As for Manu Bhaker, the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup, she finished sixth after entering the final with a qualification games record score of 593. Manu is just a kid and the expectations on her are immense, but I won’t term this as a failure. This is a huge learning experience for her. Sometimes, defeat teaches you what wins can’t. From adversity, champions are born.
Organisations like the Olympic Gold Quest and Go Sports Foundation have given that extra edge. I would like to commend Athletics Federation of India, Sports Authority of India for their TOPS scheme, which helped athletes choose their coaches and training in other countries.
We do have good prospects for Tokyo 2020 but now the real deal starts as athletes have to prepare for the real test. First is qualifying for Tokyo 2020 and then is saving the best for the final event. It’s time to convert the potentials to winners at the Olympics.