By Haridut A.S. (B.E- Mechanical, 2011-2015) & Shree Sanjana .S.A (B.E- Robotics and Automation Engineering, 2012-2016)
The 2014 Asian Games, officially known as the XVII Asiad, was a multi-sport event held in Incheon, South Korea from September 19 to October 4, 2014. 439 events in 36 sports and disciplines featured in the Games. All 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia participated.
The Indian government had pruned the contingent for the Asian Games by nearly a third to 679 from 942 that was proposed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). With 516 of the country’s talented athletes representing it, how exactly did India perform at the games? Here’s a look.
LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS:
Jitu Rai, the Lucknow-based shooter, who serves the Gurkha regiment, carried forward his rich vein of form from the recently concluded Commonwealth games and was hitting the bull’s eye from the word go. His near perfect performance in 50m Pistol event brought India its first gold medal at the games.
London Olympic Bronze medalist, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt did not disappoint us when he bettered his 2006 edition bronze. This time he made sure he ended India’s 28 year old gold drought in wrestling when he grappled out Zalimkhan Yusupov of Tajikistan in men’s 65kg freestyle.
The Indian men’s squash team led by Saurav Ghoshal bagged gold with its stellar performance blanking out Malaysia 2-0 in the finals. Kolkata boy Ghoshal, who had to settle for the silver in the individual event, had his revenge when he got the better of the very same opponent, Abdullah Almezayen, who defeated him in the individual leg of the event. The women’s team bagged the silver.
The top seeded Chinese Taipei players were made short work of by Sania Mirza and the young Saketh Myneni in the finals of the tennis mixed doubles event. The duo produced some breathtaking shots and reflex volleys to ensure India’s only tennis gold medal.
Magnificent super mom M C Mary Kom became the first Indian woman boxer to clinch a gold medal at the Asian Games after she came from behind to beat Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova! She landed a flurry of booming punches to send her opponent packing.
The Indian women’s 4*400m relay has made it a habit to win gold. It was no different this time as India ran to its fourth straight triumph in this category with the likes of Tintu Luka, Priyanka Pawar, Maandeep Kaur and M. R. Poovamma and it came at a Games record time 3:28.68s, breaking India’s own Asiad record achieved in Guangzhou four years ago.
The men and women Kabaddi team maintained their flawless record. The Indian men had won the last six editions since the sport made its debut in 1990. This time around Iran made India sweat and slog to get its hand on the gold with the score line ending at 27-25.The Indian women also beat Iran in the final 31-21 to clinch their second straight gold.
SPRINGING A SURPRISE:
The world champions in compound archery, South Korea were stunned, courtesy some fearless display from the young Indian team of Rajat Chauhan, Sandeep Kumar and Abhishek Verma. The team gave the country her second yellow metal. Compound archery made its debut at this year’s Asian games. Verma also went on to add a silver medal to his collections in the individual event.
Seema Poonia, who had to miss the last two editions of the games due to doping allegations, could not have silenced her critics in a better way. A throw of 61.03m left the rest of them languishing behind and ensured she won the first gold in the discus throw. Vikas Gowda bagged silver in the men’s event.
India’s swimming campaign got the needed fillip, thanks to Sandeep Sejwal’s bronze in the 50m breaststroke event.
Golden boy, Abhinav Bindra finished his professional shooting career on a high. The ace shooter bagged a bronze medal in the 10m air rifle event. He was away from shooting for a couple of months due to an injury and to win a bronze on comeback was an outstanding performance. Bindra brought all his experience into play when he held his nerve to shoot a 10.1 on the last chance to topple his opponent and finish third.
The men’s hockey team came up with some skillful stick work to bag gold. The hockey gold came after a 16 year gold drought. The men’s final against arch rivals Pakistan ended in a pulsating shoot-out with India gaining the edge, 5-3, making India automatic qualifiers for the Rio Olympics.
Sarita Devi’s dominating display and ferocious punches in the semifinals failed to impress the judges and the bizarre decision robbed Sarita of the chance to compete for the yellow metal. She had to be content with the Bronze medal.
OFF THE RADAR:
India’s Asian Games badminton campaign ended on a dismal note with 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap knocked out of the singles event in the early stages. The only one saving grace was the bronze in the women’s team event, which was India’s first from the sport since 1986 Seoul Games.
Deepika Kumari, who won two gold medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, failed to live up to her reputation after losing her 1/8 elimination match in the recurve individual women’s elimination round archery event.
India’s table tennis team had an outing to forget with the likes of Soumyajit Ghosh and Manika Batra suffering defeats in the men’s and women’s round of 16 matches respectively.
The medal tally with 57 medals, 8 of them coming in gold, might look leaner than the last edition of the games in terms of numbers. But a nuanced look will tell us that the range of disciplines from which the medals came were greater than previous editions. There were many inspiring stories, thumping victories, joyous moments with the icing on the cake being the hockey gold that saw India earn a direct berth to the Rio Olympics. How many of these medals get transformed into 2016 Rio Olympics medals, we will have to wait and watch. Let us leave introspection for later and celebrate the athletes who have made us proud.
HARIDUT A.S. (B.E- Mechanical, 2011-2015) is a sports fanatic. He follows all the action from the world of tennis and cricket and plays tennis for the college team. He loves watching spiced up debates and is eager to be a part of one.
SHREE SANJANA .S.A (B.E- Robotics and Automation Engineering, 2012-2016) is the captain of the college women’s tennis team and the Joint Secretary of the Entrepreneurs Club. She is very passionate about tennis and loves travelling and hiking.
For comments/feedback/suggestions, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org