The 19th edition of the Asian Games is set to be held in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8 this year.
At the previous Asian Games - the 18th edition held in Jakarta and Palembang in 2018 - India finished eighth in the medals tally with 16 gold, 23 silver and 31 bronze medals.
Here are the top five Indian performances from Asian Games 2018:
1. Neeraj Chopra (Men’s Javelin Throw - Gold medal)
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, having already won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, added another to his collection with a then national record of 88.06m at the Asian Games. The Indian, who later went on to win the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in track-and-field events in Tokyo three years later, led right from the beginning in the final with a throw of 83.46m.
China’s Liu Qizhen, eventual silver medallist, came close with his opening attempt of 82.22m but could not go any further in his remaining five throws. Neeraj unleashed his gold medal-winning effort in his third attempt before another 85-plus (86.36m) throw in his penultimate try.
Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem took bronze with a throw of 80.75m, beating Liu’s compatriot Ma Qun narrowly, who finished fourth with 80.46m.
2. Vinesh Phogat (Women’s 50kg freestyle wrestling - Gold medal)
Like Neeraj, Vinesh Phogat too entered the 2018 Asian Games as the reigning Commonwealth champion. However, unlike him, Vinesh was going for something no other Indian woman had done before - a gold medal in wrestling at the Asian Games.
She began her campaign in the 50kg freestyle category with a solid 8-2 victory over Sun Yanan of China, the runner-up from 2014. Sun was the same opponent against whom Vinesh had picked up the knee injury that had ended her 2016 Rio Olympics run in the quarterfinals.
Vinesh followed her win over Sun with 11-0 and 10-0 victories over South Korea’s Kim Hyung-joo and Uzbekistan’s Dauletbike Yakhshimuratova, respectively. In a closely contested final, Vinesh defeated Japan’s Yuki Irie 6-2 to create history.
3. P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal (Badminton - Women’s Singles - Silver and Bronze medals)
P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal both had won medals at the Commonwealth Games and Olympics but not at the Asian Games. That changed at the 2018 edition in Indonesia where both Indian shuttlers showed tremendous grit to win silver and bronze, respectively.
Saina, placed in the top half of the draw, had a rather easier route to the semifinals as she defeated Soraya Aghaei of Iran, Indonesia’s Fitriani and Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, a former world champion, in straight games to reach the semifinals. Since there is no bronze medal play-off at the continental event, Saina confirmed India’s first-ever medal in women’s singles in badminton.
On the other hand, Sindhu had to fight her way through the bottom half as she was stretched to three games by Vietnam’s Vu Thi Trang (first round) and Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol (quarterfinals).
In the semifinals, Saina went down 17-21, 14-21 to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, a bronze medallist from 2014. However, Sindhu outlasted Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi 21-17, 15-21, 21-10 to become the first-ever Indian shuttler to reach the final of a singles event at the Asian Games.
Tai Tzu Ying, who currently has a 19-5 win-loss record against Sindhu, defeated the Indian 21-13, 21-16 in the final.
4. Rahi Sarnobat (Shooting - 25m pistol - Gold Medal)
Rahi Sarnobat became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in shooting at the Asian Games in the 25m pistol event in 2018.
It wasn’t easy though. In the final, Sarnobat was in the lead against Thai shooter Naphaswan Yangpaiboon for the major part before the latter came back to draw at 34 points each following 10 series of five shots each, taking it to a shoot-off.
Both found the target four times in the shoot-off, leading to another shoot-off where Sarnobat shot three and the Thai two, ensuring a historic gold for the Kohlapur-born shooter.
5. Sharath Kamal (Table Tennis - Men’s Team and Mixed Doubles - Bronze medals)
Until 2018, India had no medals in table tennis at Asian Games with the sport dominated by players from China, Japan and South Korea. But in Jakarta, the country won two medals and Sharath Kamal had a role to play in both of them.
In the men’s team event, the Indian squad of Sharath, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Anthony Amalraj, Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar finished second behind Chinese Taipei in the group stage, which meant a quarterfinal against two-time champion Japan.
However, the Indian team managed to upset its opponent 3-1 with Sathiyan winning both his singles matches against Jin Ueda and Kenta Matsudaira and Sharath also managing to beat the latter after Harmeet lost his match against Masaki Yoshida. Even though India eventually lost 0-3 to South Korea, it was a historic achievement as the country took bronze, its first ever medal in the sport at the continental event.
Sharath also won bronze in the mixed doubles event with Manika Batra as the Indian pair defeated the pairs from Malaysia, South Korea and North Korea before going down 1-4 against China in the semifinals.
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