GUANGZHOU: India created history by recording their best-ever performance in Asian Games with 64 medals, including 14 gold, with star boxer Vijender Singh providing the icing on the cake by bringing the last yellow metal on the penultimate day on Friday.
The men’s and women’s kabaddi teams expectedly maintained their supremacy by clinching the gold before the women’s 4x400m quartet and Vijender (75kg) bagged a yellow metal each on the most productive day for India in the mega-event.
With the addition of 11 more medals on Friday, India’s tally climbed to 14 gold, 17 silver and 33 bronze (total 64), the biggest ever haul in the Asian Games so far, to jump to the sixth place.
India’s best medal haul till date was recorded in the 1982 Games in Delhi when they had won 13 gold, 19 silver and 25 bronze for an overall tally of 57. India had finished 10 in the last edition of the Games in Doha with a tally of 10-17-26.
India have now completed their engagements in the Games and their final standing will depend after the completion of the six events — men’s and women’s marathon, men’s and women’s doubles sepaktakraw finals and women’s volleyball final — on Saturday.
China leads the medal table with 197 gold, 117 silver and 98 bronze (total 412), followed by South Korea (74-63-91) and Japan (47-73-94) at second and third respectively.
While the kabaddi teams did not sweat much to keep their reputation intact in rather lopsided finals, Vijender made amends for his bronze-finish in Commonwealth Games with a gold here while compatriots Santosh Kumar (64) and Manpreet Singh (91kg) settled for a silver each.
The women’s 4x400m relay team also lived up to the expectations as they defended the gold they won in the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
Long distance runners Preeja Sreedharan, who had earlier won a gold in women’s 10,000m race, and Kavita Raut had their moment of glory by winning the silver and bronze medals respectively in the women’s 5000m event.
Rollersports fetched India a couple of unexpected bronze medals with Anup Kumar Yama bagging one in men’s single free skating before combining with Avani Panchal to finish third in the pairs skating event. The Indian men’s chess team also contributed a bronze.
Much was expected from the kabaddi teams to provide the boost to the gold haul and they did not disappoint.
The men’s kabaddi team maintained their impeccable track record by winning the gold medal for the sixth time on the trot, demolishing Iran with a facile 37-20 margin what turned out to be a lop-sided contest.
The script unfolded on expected lines for the women’s kabaddi team also as they completed a memorable Asian Games debut by clinching the gold medal with a comprehensive win over Thailand in the final.
The Indians beat Thailand 28-14 in a dominating performance to clinch the inaugural women’s kabaddi gold of the Asian Games.
World number one Vijender added another feather on his cap by clinching an unprecedented second boxing gold for India in the Asian Games to round off the best ever campaign by the country’s pugilists at the quadrennial mega-event.
It was sweet revenge for Olympic and World Championship bronze-medallist Vijender when he blanked reigning world champion Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan 7-0. Atoev had beaten the 25-year-old Indian at the World Championship semifinals last year but Vijender wiped off the disappointment with a performance fitting the hype around him.
The dashing six-footer Indian crouched a bit and took full advantage of his long reach and taller height against Atoev, whom he had beaten in Asian Championships last year.
Hitting straight and clear, Vijender, who was a bronze-medallist at the 2006 Asian Games, defended stoutly, seldom letting Atoev to attack.
However, V Santhosh Kumar (64kg) and Manpreet Singh (91kg) settled for silver medals after losing in the finals.
While Santhosh lost 1-16 to Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov in finals, Manpreet went down 1-8 to Mohammad Ghossoun of Syria to take India’s silver tally to three in boxing after Dinesh Kumar (81kg) had finished second yesterday.
The athletics team also ended their campaign with a bagful of medals with the women’s 4x400m relay quartet winning the gold to bring down curtains with a bang.
India emerged from the track and field events with five gold, two silver and four bronze medals, one of their best efforts in Asian Games history, though below their performance in 2002 Busan Asian Games where they had a 7-6-5 medal haul.
Having started their campaign with a golden double in the women’s 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase through Preeja Sreedharan and Sudha Singh on the first day, the 4x400m relay team of Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose, AC Ashwini and Mandeep Kaur ended the campaign by clinching gold in 3 minutes 29.02secs.
Kazakhstan took the silver in 3:30.03 while China claimed the bronze in 3:30.89.
It was the fifth gold from the athletics arena for India following gold medals by Ashwini in the 400m hurdles and by Joseph Abraham in the corresponding men’s event and the opening day’s heroics by Preeja and Sudha.
Preeja, however, could only get a silver in the women’s 5000m despite making a great effort to catch Bahrain’s eventual gold winner Mimi Belete while compatriot Kavita Raut got the bronze as India won one gold, a silver and a bronze.
Preeja and Kavita clocked their personal bests of 15:15.89 and 15:16.54 while Belete had a timing of 15:15.59.
Renjith Maheswary, bronze winner in the Commonwealth Games, looked headed for the gold in men’s triple jump when he took the lead with his fourth attempt of 16.74m.
But his dream got shattered first by Kazakh Evginiy Ektov’s 16.86m in reply to the Indian’s 16.71m in the final try, before Chinese defending champion Li Yanxi uncorked a winning leap of 16.94, incidentally his season’s best, in his fifth and last attempt to take care of the gold.
Had Maheswary come anywhere near his CWG effort of 17.07m, he would have easily won the gold, but under pressure and in his final leap the Kerala jumper faltered to finish in fourth place as another Chinese Asian junior champion Cao Shuo also leaped past him with a 16.84m effort in the final attempt to grab the bronze.
India’s second entrant, Amarjit Singh, ended up a poor 7th with a best try of 16.15m from 16 starters.
The Indian men’s 4x100m relay squad narrowly missed the bronze medal after a great anchor leg by Mohamed Abdul Najeeb who started in fifth position when the baton was passed to him by third runner Shameer Naseem Mon and nearly edged out the last runner of Thailand, Sittichai Sowonprateep. The other Indian runners were M Rahamatulla and Suresh Sathya.
Two bronze medals came from roller sports with Anup Kumar Yama bagging one in men’s single free skating before combining with Avani Panchal to finish third in the pairs skating event.
Anup totalled 244.2 in his singles routine for which he fetched 123.6 on technical merit and 120.6 for artistic impression.
In the pairs event, Anup and Avani combined for a score of 222 which included 112.5 points on technical merit and 109.5 for artistic impression.
Indian men’s chess team of P Harikrishna, Sasikiran Krishnan, Surya Shekar Ganguly and B Adhiban contributed a bronze with a 3.0-0.5 victory over Iran the ninth and final round.
Despite suffering an elbow injury, Indian woman wrestler Suman Kundu reached the semifinals of the 63kg freestyle wrestling but failed a get a bronze.
The injury hampered her from giving her best in the semifinal bout and she lost 0-3 to Mongolia’s Nasanbyrmaa Ochirbat. She was overwhelmed 0-5 by China’s Chen Meng in the bronze-medal play-off.(PTI)