The biggest Continental games – Asian Games is about to start in few days in the largest island country of the world - Indonesia. It was way back in 1962 when Jakarta held the Asian Games last. This time it is being hosted by two cities, which is the first time in the history of Asian Games – Jakarta and Palembang. This is the 18th edition of the games and 45 countries are participating in this two-week long sporting extravaganza.
As far as Indian contingent is concerned, Indian athletes are itching to prove their mettle at this level also after their superb performance in Commonwealth Games. However, the field is much tougher than CWG in most of the sports. Therefore, we can’t expect them to win 26 Golds (which India won in recently concluded CWG at Gold Coast) but can we hope to better the tally of 15 Gold medals ( which is best till date)? In this series of four articles, we will try to figure out the answer to this question. We will look at India’s performances in different Asian Games and we will also talk about various sports where India stands to win a medal.
Traditionally, Asian Games has been used as a preparation turf for Olympics but since, we have not been very successful in Olympics, the success at these games are considered to be athletes’ road to redemption. We have many happy memories of the Games right from the start of Asiad’1951 when the first Games were hosted by New Delhi – be it Milkha Singh’s golden run at two Asian Games or Sriram Singh’s dominance in 800m or PT Usha Golden performance of 4 Golds at 1986 Asian Games. In the first Asian Games, India was quite close to securing the first position in medals tally but finally was pipped to the post by Japan that won 24 Gold Medals vis-à-vis India’s 15 Golds. India won a total of 51 Medals with 16 silver and 20 Bronze. Ironically, this has been the best performance till date by any Indian contingent in Asiad in terms of Golds and medal tally position.
Post these games, Indian performances dipped and mostly we won the medals in the range of 20-30. An exception to this tally was 1962 Jakarta Asian Games & 1982 New Delhi Asian Games where we won a total of 52 medals and 57 medals respectively. Despite the fact that India won medals not more than 30, still, India mostly maintained a position in top 5 of the medal table. The worst performance by Indians came in 1990 Beijing Asiad when India won a solitary Gold medal in Kabaddi and was placed at no. 11. Interestingly, this was the first time that Kabaddi was being played at Asiad- had it not been included- India would have faced the ignominy of coming back without a single Gold This is the only time when India featured outside of top 10 in medal tally which can be attributed to the fact that new countries formed after disintegration of USSR like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were also participating which pushed India further down the rankings in medal table.
Due to the introduction of Kazakh and Uzbek teams, India lost the place in top 5 permanently and has achieved a ranking of 8 in 4 out of 6 games held thereafter. This is despite the fact that Indian performances have improved by leaps and bounds. Indian medal count improved from the 20s to 30s in 1998 and 2002 Games and in last three games, India has won more than 50 medals in three consecutive Asian Games. In 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Indians came very close to 15 Gold medal mark but unfortunately count stopped at 14. However, in medal terms, this was the best games for Indians with 64 medals. Also, they were placed at no. 6 which is a very creditable finish. In the last Asian Games held at Incheon, India won a total of 57 medals with 11 Gold medals securing again an 8th position in the medal tally. However, the best part was that these 11 Gold medals were won in 9 different games which included games like Squash and Archery in which we had never Gold. Contrast this with 14 Gold medals won in Guangzhou-2010, there were only 7 events that won us the Gold. This means the ambit of producing champions improved in 4 years and let us keep our fingers crossed for the upcoming Asian Games as to how many games can foster champions. In the following table, we can see the medals won by an Indian contingent in different Asian Games.
Year Host Gold Silver Bronze Total Rank
1951 New Delhi 15 16 20. Toal 51 Rank 2
1954 Manila 4 4 5 Total 13 Rank 5
1958 Tokyo 5 4 5 Total 14 Rank 7
1962 Jakarta 12 13 27 Total 52 Rank 3
1966 Bangkok 7 3 11 Total 21 Rank 5
1970 Bangkok 6 9 10 Total 25 Rank 5
1974 Tehran 4 12 12 Total 28 7
1978 Bangkok 11 11 6 Total 28 Rank 6
1982 New Delhi 13 19 25 Total 57 Rank 5
1986 Seoul 5 9 23 Total 37 Rank 5
1990 Beijing 1 8 14 Total 23 Rank 11
1994 Hiroshima 4 3 15 Total 22 Rank 8
1998 Bangkok 7 11 17Total 35 Rank 9
2002 Busan 10 12 13 Total 35 Rank 8
2006 Doha 10 17 26 Total 53 Rank 8
2010 Guangzhou 14 17 34 Total 65 Rank 6
2014 Incheon 11 10 36 Total 57 Rank 8
Grand Total 139