Asian Games 2018: 5 sports in which India won medals unexpectedly
Disappointments and unprecedented surprises are the norms each time a group of athletes from various fields assemble together to play for the country in either the Commonwealth Games, Asia Games or the Olympics.
While the nerves of playing at the grandest stage might affect some of the fiercest competitors, it might push some to give their best in do-or-die clashes.
The Indian contingent too displayed adequate steel in the Asian Games to return with 69 medals from Jakarta - their best haul in the Asiad.
While some familiar names like Dutee Chand, PV Sindhu and Vinesh Phogat continued their fine form to bag medals, there were a few sports where India was hardly given a chance.
The Men’s Doubles Team in tennis were hardly expected to win the Yellow Metal after Leander Paes pulled out in the last moment, but the pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan ensured that his absence was hardly felt.
Aside from tennis, a few other individuals in various events surprised as well.
Here are 5 sports where India beat stiff competition and the underdogs' tag to romp away with a medal.
#1 Table Tennis
One of the biggest highlights of India’s campaign in the Asian Games was the performance of the Table Tennis teams that bagged its first-ever medal in the history of the Asian Games. The Indian Men’s team had been reaching the quarters in the last few editions but a lapse in the crucial stage often led to their ouster.
However, this time they were prepared.
After emerging second in the group, India faced mighty Japan in the quarters and though the rivals were not fielding their top three players, the stronger skill sets and stamina was always going to be a challenge for the Indians.
As world number 33 Sharath Kamal pulled up his socks to beat Japan’s world number 19 Kenta Matsudaira 11-8, 12-10, 11-8 the momentum had been set and rising star G Sathiyan ensured he did not allow his senior pro’s efforts go waste, winning both his encounters. A 3-1 beating of Japan meant that India walked into the semis for the first time, thus assuring themselves of a medal that would be remembered for a long, long time. Though they did lose to South Korea in the semis, India had proven that they were no longer mere challengers in the sport.
Later, the pair of Manika Batra and Kamal won another bronze in the Mixed Doubles event as well to cap off a memorable campaign.