Asian Games: With medals from athletics, squash and archery, India surge to all-time record haul

Asian Games: With medals from athletics, squash and archery, India surge to all-time record haul


B Shrikant

Hangzhou, Oct 4 (IANS) Spearheaded by the towering talent of Olympic and World Champions javelin thrower, India's emerging strength in men's 4x400 relay and compound archery shone through as the country bagged 12 more medals, including three gold, on Wednesday to take its tally to an all-time high of 81 medals in the Asian Games.

At the end of the day, India has won 18 gold, 31 silver, and 32 bronze medals to take their tally to 81 medals and surpass their previous best of 70 medals achieved at the 2018 edition in Indonesia, by a wide margin. 

With three more days of competitions to go with medal opportunities in archery, badminton, chess, hockey, cricket, and wrestling remaining the question uppermost on most fans' minds is whether India could breach the 100-medal mark for the first time. 

As expected, Indian athletics' first and only global star, Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal in men's javelin throw, defending his first title with a season's best throw of 88.88 while Kishore Kumar Jena bagged silver with a personal best effort of 87.54 in a sensational 1-2 for India in an event in which a blunder by the officials nearly derailed Chopra's campaign.

The men's 4x400m relay team, which has lived in the shadow of their women's counterparts, burst out on the scene to win the country's first gold medal in the longer relay since the 1962 edition in Jakarta. 

The women's 4x400 relay team failed to win the gold medal for the first time since the 2002 edition in Busan, settling for silver behind Bahrain.

In athletics, Avinash Sable and Harmilan Bains claimed their second medals of this Asian Games, claiming silver medals each in the men's 5000m and the women's 800m respectively -- Harmilan emulating her mother Madhuri Singh who won a silver in the same discipline in the 2002 edition in Busan. Earlier, Sable had bagged gold in the Men's 3000m steeplechase while Harmilan had won silver in women's 1500m.

The day started with Manju Rani and Baboo Ram winning a bronze in the 35km Race Walk Mixed Team event.

The third gold of the day was claimed by the Compound Mixed Team in archery with the pair of Jyothi Surekha Vennam and Ojas Pravin Deotale ending the dominance of the Republic of Korea to win the first gold medal in archery in the 19th Asian Games.

Jyothi Surekha Vennam is a World Championship silver medallist while Deotale captured the World Championship this year. They came up with a superb display to beat the Korean pair 159-158 in the final.

In boxing, Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain had to settle for a silver after losing to China's experienced Li Qian in the women's 75kg, the first silver medal for the country's women boxers in the Asian Games.

Lovlina was the only Indian to reach the final after Parveen Hooda lost her semifinal bout to a two-time World Champion from Chinese Taipei and had to settle for the bronze medal. 

The Indian boxers ended their campaign with five medals -- one silver and four bronze medals but more importantly, they also earned four quota places for next year's Olympic Games in Paris.

India was assured of two medals in squash with the mixed doubles team of Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu and singles star Saurav Ghosal reaching the finals of their respective categories.

Dipika and Harinder got the better of Hong Kong China's Lee Ka Yi Wong Chi Him 2-1 and set up a summit clash with Malaysia's Aifa Binti Azman and Mohammad Syafiq Bin Mohd Kamal, who defeated the second Indian pair of Anahat Singh and Abhay Singh 2-1 in the second semifinals.

Ghosal thrashed Hong Kong China's Chi Hin Henry Leung 3-0 in the semifinal.

The bridge and chess teams were still in contention for medals.

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