Asian Games, Week 1: How Indian athletes created history in Hangzhou
Leading the way in India’s medals rush was the shooters, who have claimed 19 medals (6 gold, 8 silver, 5 bronze).
It was a week of historic achievements for Indian athletes at the ongoing Asian Games 2022 in Hangzhou, China. In seven days of action, till Saturday (September 30), India has won 38 medals with 10 gold, 14 silver and 14 bronze, and is fourth in the table. China leads with 216 medals (114 gold, 68 silver, 34 bronze).
Leading the way in India’s medals rush was the shooters, who have claimed 19 medals (6 gold, 8 silver, 5 bronze). Shooters were brought India’s first medal in Hangzhou on September 24 when Ashi Chouksey, Mehuli Ghosh, and Ramita Jindal grabbed a silver in the women's 10m air rifle shooting team event. Ramita, the 19-year-old has emerged as a star for India, with a team silver and an individual bronze, winning both medals on the same day, Tuesday (September 26).
In table tennis, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee shocked world champion Chinese pair Chen Meng and Yidi Wang to enter the women's doubles semifinals, assuring India a historic table tennis medal.
Sutirtha and Ayhika won 11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 11-9 in the quarterfinals and the victory over the World No. 2 Chinese duo is all the more significant because India has never won a medal in the women's doubles event in the Asian Games.
In men’s hockey, captain Harmanpreet Singh scored four goals as India thrashed Pakistan 10-2 to record their biggest-ever win over the arch-rivals in a one-sided Pool A match to book a semi-final berth.
India's earlier biggest victory margin was 7-1 against Pakistan registered in 2017. Pakistan's 7-1 win in the final of 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi was their biggest win against India.
In badminton, India stood one step away from winning their first-ever gold medal at the Asian Games, reaching the men's team championships final with a 3-2 win over South Korea.
This is India's maiden entry into the final of the team event at the continental showpiece.
India will face multiple-time gold medallist China in the final on Sunday. Saturday's win assured India of at least a silver medal.
The women’s T20I cricket team also created history by winning the gold with a win over Sri Lanka in the final. This was India’s first-ever Asian Games gold in cricket.
For the first time in equestrian, India secured a team gold in dressage event. The last medal in dressage, a bronze, came during the 1986 edition. It also ended a 41-year wait as India last won a gold in equestrian in the 1982 Asian Games In New Delhi.
India’s 10 gold medals came in shooting (six), equestrian (dressage team), cricket, squash (men’s team), and tennis (mixed doubles).
Disappointment in tennis
Rutuja Bhosale and the seasoned Rohan Bopanna came back from a set down to win the tennis mixed doubles gold in tennis.
The second-seeded Indian team rallied to win the title clash 2-6, 6-3, 10-4 against Chinese Taipei’s combo of Tsung-hao Huang and En-shuo Liang.
The victory ensured that India will return with at least one tennis gold from the Asian Games in an otherwise disappointing campaign in which the country managed to win only two medals – the other being men’s doubles silver.
The two-medal show is India’s worst at the Asian Games since the turn of the century.
Boxers secure Olympic berths
Nikhat Zareen became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic quota, with a semi-final berth. Later, Preeti Pawar secured a quota for the Paris Olympics and also assured herself of a medal along with Lovlina Borgohain and Narender as they moved into the semi-finals.
Top seeds India upstaged traditional rivals Pakistan in a sensational duel to claim the gold medal in the men’s team squash event.
India’s previous men’s team squash gold came in the 2014 edition of the Games in Incheon, while the Pakistanis last claimed gold in 2010 in Guangzhou.
India's first athletics medal
Kiran Baliyan became the first Indian woman to win an Asian Games medal in shot put event in 72 years as she picked up a bronze.
Baliyan thus became only the second Indian to win a medal in women’s shot put in Asian Games after Barbara Webster, an Anglo-Indian from then Bombay, won a bronze in the inaugural edition in New Delhi in 1951.
Later, long-distance runners Kartik Kumar and Gulveer Singh bagged a silver and bronze medal respectively in the men’s 10000m race with personal best times.
Heartbreak for Mirabai
Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu's campaign ended in agony as the Olympic medallist was carried off after she fell flat on her back following a failed lift, success in which would have fetched her a bronze medal in the women's 49kg event.
Chanu, who was under pressure after a disappointing snatch outing, went for a 117kg clean and jerk lift but failed to clear it twice. If she had succeeded there, the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist would have finished with a bronze.
In her final attempt, she fell flat on her back and had to be carried away by the coaching staff. Chanu signed off in fourth place with a total effort of 191kg (83kg+108kg).
Chanu later revealed that she felt pain in her thigh ahead of the competition. but refused to pull out of the event.
(With agency inputs)