Will Asiad gold lead to greater glory in athletics?

Sportstar gives you a rundown on the athletes who won the gold in 2010 and 2014 and how their career has progressed after the Asiad medal.

Joseph Abraham became the first Indian to win individual gold at 400m hurdles at the Asian Games in 2010.   -  AFP

India's track and field athletes returned from the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang with a haul of seven gold medals (and a total of 19 medals). It is the country's third best performance after the 11-gold effort in 1951 and the eight gold-medal haul in 1978.

It is a marked improvement from the country's 2010 and 2014 Asian Games outings where India finished with five (12 medals including silver and bronze) and two gold medals respectively (13 including silver and bronze).

The 19 track and field medals helped India to finish with 69 medals overall, the country's best performance since the first edition. However, the true success will depend on how the medal winners perform after the Asian Games, in bigger events like World Championships and Olympics.  A look at India's past medal winners suggest India fails at converting its regional success at the World Change. Will India finally buck the trend in athletics?

Sportstar gives you a rundown on the athletes who won the gold in 2010 and 2014 and how their career has progressed after the Asiad medal.

India's track and field gold medal winners in 2018

Tajinderpal Singh Toor (shot put)

Neeraj Chopa (javelin throw)

Manjit Singh (800m)

Arpinder Singh (triple jump)

Swapna Barman (heptathlon)

Jinson Johnson (1500m)

M.R. Poovamma, Saritaben Gaikwad, Hima Das, Vismaya (4x400m relay)

 

2010 Guangzhou Games

Preeja Sreedharan (10,000m): The Southern Railway-employed athlete rose to prominence in 2007 when she won the silver medal in both 5,000m and 10,000m events at the Asian Athletics Championships. In 2010 at the Asian Games, Preeja won the gold in the 10,000m event and in the process broke the national record in both 10,000m and 5,000m events. She also participated in the 2014 Asian Games but didn't win any medal and subsequently announced her retirement in 2015.

In 2010, Preeja Sreedharan broke the national record and won the Asian Games gold in the 10,000m event.   -  M. Moorthy

 

Sudha Singh (3000m steeplechase): An international athlete since 2005, Sudha Singh shot to fame in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games when she won the gold in steeplechase. She also represented India in two Olympics (2012 and 2016) and endured unsuccessful runs, finishing 21st in the heats in London and 30 in the heats in Rio de Janeiro. Sudha was diagnosed with swine flu post her return from Rio de Janeiro and had to miss out on the entire season. At the 2014 Incheon Games, Sudha missed a medal after finishing fourth. However, in the Asian Championships in 2017, Sudha won the gold in her event. She was among the star performers for India at the Jakarta Games, clinching the silver, Winfred Yavi, another African-origin competing for Bahrain.

Ashwini Akkunji (400m hurdles, 4X400 relay): After winning gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the 400m event, Ashwini continued her excellent run in the 2010 Asian Games and won two gold medals — in the 4x400m relay (with Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose and Mandeep Kaur) and the 400m hurdles. She also bettered her personal best in the process. Her career nosedived the following year as she was embroiled in a doping case and was subsequently dropped from the athletics team and served a two-year ban. She now works in a Corporation Bank in Patiala.

Ashwini Akkunji won two gold medals at the 2010 Asian Games — in the 4x400m relay (with Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose and Mandeep Kaur) and the 400m hurdles.   -  AP

 

Joseph Abraham (400m hurdles): With multiple firsts to his name, Joseph Abraham hogged the limelight in 2007 when he became the first Indian male athlete to win an opening round in the World Athletics Championships and reached the 400m hurdles semifinals. Abraham then became the first Indian to win individual gold at 400m hurdles at any Asian Games when he won the gold at 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, clocking 49.96 seconds. There has no noticeable highs since then and he is currently employed by the Indian Railways.

Manjeet Kaur (4x400m relay): The Punjab Police athlete represented India in five Asian Championships, three Asian Games, two Commonwealth Games and two Olympics. Manjeet rose to fame in the 2005 Asian Championships in Incheon, winning the gold medal and since then there was no looking back for Manjeet for the next five years as she regularly headlined in various international events. In the 2010 Commonwealth Games, she partnered with Sini Jose, Mandeep Kaur and Ashwini Akkunji and the team won the gold medal in the 4x400m relay. The same quartet replicated the feat in the Guangzhou Asain Games too. She (with her team) finished third in the 4x400m heats at the Athens Olympics and seventh in the Beijing Olympics.

Sini Jose (4x400m relay)Also employed by the Indian Railways, Sini Jose won the gold medal at the Asian Championships in 2007 in Amman. Sini partnered Manjeet Kaur, Ashwini Akkunji and Mandeep Kaur and the quartet looked menacing, winning the gold medal in both Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in 2010. A doping scandal in 2011 saw her banned for a couple of years and her career came to a standstill. She now works in Ernakulam, Kerala for the Railways.

2014 Incheon Games

Seema Punia (discus throw): Seema Punia won her first international gold medal at the 2000 world juniors, but lost it after failing a drug test. In senior competition, she won silver at the Commonwealth Games, but controversially skipped the Asian Games that year. She won bronze at the next Commonwealth Games and missed out on the 2010 Asian Games, before finally winning the gold medal at the Incheon Games in 2014. At the 2018 Asian Games, she was unable to retain her top position and finished third, behind the Chinese duo of Chen Yang and Feng Bin.

The women's relay team that clinched the gold at the 2014 Incheon Games.   -  AP

 

Priyanka Pawar (4x400m relay): Priyanka Pawar’s career has seen as much controversy as success. In 2011, she was suspended along with five other athletes after failing a drug test. The same year, her parents accused her Railways team in-charge Anu Singh of sexually harassing her, a claim that was denied. In 2014, she won the women’s 4x400m relay at the Asian Games with Tintu Lukka, Mandeep Kaur and M. R. Poovamma. But in 2016, she failed another dope test and was banned for eight years, effectively ending her sporting career.

Tintu Luka (4x400m relay)One of the most successful Indian track-and-field athletes, Tintu Luka has won two gold medals at the Asian Championships — in the 4x400m relay in 2013 and the 800m in 2015. At the Asian Games, she progressed from the 800m bronze in 2010 to the 800m silver and 4x400m relay gold in 2014. Mentored by the great P. T. Usha, she is the national record holder in the 800m, breaking the Shiny Wilson’s 15-year-old national mark in 2010. Luka had to pull out of the confirmatory trials ahead of the 2018 Asian Games as she hadn’t recovered from a heel injury.

M. R. Poovamma (4x400m relay)M. R. Poovamma has had success both individually as well as in the 4x400m relay. She won silver in the 400m at the Asian Championships in both 2013 and 2015 and bronze at the 2014 Asian Games. In the 4x400m relay, she won gold in the 2013 and 2017 Asian Championships and silver in 2015, as well as back-to-back gold medals in the Asian Games. At the 2018 Asiad, she added a silver in the 4x400m mixed relay, an event held for the first time.

Mandeep Kaur ( 4x400 relay gold in 2010, 2014): Mandeep Kaur is another athlete who has faced doping allegations. She won the 4x400m relay gold medal at the 2007 Asian Championships and the 2010 Commonwealth Games as well as the Asian Games that year. But, in 2011, Reuters reported that she had failed a dope test in the off-season. She recovered from the controversy to retain her 4x400m relay gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.

India's track and field gold medal winners in 1978

Ramaswamy Gnanasekaran (200m)

Sriram Singh (800m)

Hari Chand (5000m, 10,000m)

Hakam Singh (20km walk)

Suresh Babu (long jump)

Bahadur Singh Chouhan (Shotput)

Geeta Zutshi (800m)