MIXED BAG

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 03 Sep 2018 10:25:59

At the beginning of the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi had expressed the hope that the Indian contingent would give its best at the Games. At the conclusion of the Asian Games on Sunday, the Prime Minister’s wish seems to have somewhat fulfilled. This is considered as one of the best performances by the Indian contingent at the Asian Games ever since the Games began in 1951 fetching a haul of 69 medals over all with 15 golds, 24 silver and 30 bronze. As expected at the top there was fierce competition among the three Asian sporting powers, China, Japan and Korea, with China emerging as the dominant force.

That India has finished eighth in the medals tally, way behind even Indonesia and Iran, shows that the country has to do much catching up with the rest of the front runners even in Asia. That also showed why Asian Games are considered tougher than even events like the Commonwealth Games and next only to the Olympic Games. The Chinese, the Japanese and the Koreans have set new bench-marks that could compete with the best in the world. And that is why they are also among the dominant forces of the world sports. In recent years, China, in fact, has begun to challenge even the traditional sporting superpowers like the United States, Russia and the best among the Europeans.

It is this competition that India has to contend with. This version of the Asian Games could prove to be a good a base for preparing for the Tokyo Olympic Games with some new heroes emerging from unlikely fields like athletics. In fact for India performances in some of the athletic events like javelin throw, heptathlon were the first and a revelation. In some of the sports, like 1500 m, 800m races, triple jump, success has come after years.

Many of these performances have come from athletes who had their own problems to fight and had even to manage their own kits and sports gears to compete. There have also been brave stories of injured athletes completing their events and climbing the podium. These new heroes have to be nurtured and nursed for the future. They have the potential to become world-beaters because age is on their side and should have a long career.

While some of the glory came from unexpected quarters, there were huge disappoints as well from favourite events. Men’s hockey, for one, was the biggest disappointment. A team that looked unstoppable in the league phase, raining goals on hapless opponents, could not defend its champion status and ended up with a bronze medal. So was kabaddi and archery. Badminton, wrestling too can be added to this long list of disappointments. There are huge lessons to be learnt from this Asiad and prepare for the Tokyo Olympics accordingly.