Athletes clinch a bevy of medals for India on Day 9

Neeraj Chopra

Day 9 at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia was an eventful day for Indian track and field athletes. Neeraj Chopra bagged a historic gold in the javelin throw. Neena Varakil, Sudha Singh, and Dharun Ayyasamy clinched silver for India in track and field events. Saina Nehwal settled for bronze in badminton after she lost her semi-final match. Meanwhile, her counterpart P V Sindhu advanced to finals and will compete against world number 1 Tai Tzu Ying for the gold medal.

India’s flagbearer in the opening ceremony Neeraj Chopra won gold in the javelin throw. He threw the spear 88.06 meters in his third attempt to claim the gold medal. The 20-year-old created a new national record and broke his personal best. Considered India’s best athletics player, Neeraj delivered to the expectations and finished far ahead of his competitors.

“I don’t take pressure by setting targets. I had a gold in World Junior Championships, Asian Championship and at the CWG, but this is my biggest medal so far. The World Championship gold was at junior level, so this is big,” he said after the win. Chopra is the only Indian after Milkha Singh to win a Commonwealth and Asian games gold in the same year. In just two years of his senior career, Chopra has set new standards for Indian athletics.

India’s Neena Varakil clinched silver in the women’s long jump. Neena recorded the best attempt of 6.51 meters to finish second. Varakil recorded the best jump in her fourth attempt which was enough for her to clinch silver. Neena’s medal-winning performance is the first medal for India in the event since 2006.

India’s Sudha Singh grabbed the silver medal in the women’s 3000 meters steeplechase. Sudha clocked 9:40.03 minutes to finish behind Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi, who completed the race in 9:36.52 minutes. This is Sudha’s second Asian Games medal following her gold at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.

India’s Dharun Ayyasamy claimed the silver medal in the men’s 400 meters hurdles. Dharun broke his own national record when he finished with a time of 48.96 seconds to win the silver. He broke the national record of 49.45 seconds that he set in the Federation Cup in Patiala earlier this year. The 21-year-old Tirupur athlete’s late surge in the 400-meter secured him the second position behind Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba who clinched the gold with a Games record of 47.66 seconds.

Saina Nehwal won a historic bronze after losing to World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in women’s singles semifinals. In a match that lasted 37 minutes, the Indian lost in straight games — 17-21, 14-21 to the Chinese. Saina is India’s second singles player to win an Asiad bronze after Syed Modi, who won bronze in the 1982 Games.

PV Sindhu stormed into the finals after beating world no. 2 Akane Yagamuchi. She beat the Japanese in a three-game thriller 21-17, 15-21, 21-10. Sindhu became the first Indian to reach finals of an individual event in this year’s edition. Sindhu will take on world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of China for the gold medal on Tuesday.

India’s medal tally after Day 9: Gold 8, Silver 13, Bronze 20, Total 41

More medals follow for India on day 7 and 8 in Indonesia

More medals follow for India on day 7 and 8 in Indonesia

More medals were added to India’s medal tally on day 7 and 8 of the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia. Here are the medal-winning highlights from the two days:

Tajinderpal Singh Toor wins India’s first gold in the athletics on Friday at the Asian Games. The 23-year old threw the iron ball 20.75 meters to break the Games record and clinch gold. The Moga native said his only aim was to cross the 21-meter mark in the finals. “I had just one aim in mind. I wanted to clear 21-meter. I did not think of gold. But I am happy with this. I was trying hard to break the national record for the last 2-3 years and it happened today, that too with a meet record”, he said after the finals.

The burly Punjabi who trains in Dharamsala credited his victory to this family saying, “This medal is my biggest achievement because a lot of sacrifices have been made. For the last two years, my father (Karam Singh) has been battling cancer. My family though never let me get distracted. They allowed me to chase my dream. A lot of sacrifices have been made by my family and friends, and all of it has been repaid today”.

Squash players also added to India’s medal tally. Dipika Pallikal Karthik, Joshna Chinappa, and Saurav Ghosal had to settle for bronze in the individual events after they lost their respective semi-finals. Dipika lost to defending champion Nicol David of Malaysia by 7-11, 9-11, 6-11. Dipika had previously won bronze in the same event at the Incheon Games in 2014.

Joshna Chinappa also lost to a Malaysian. She was defeated by 19-year-old Sivasangari Subramaniam by 0-12, 6-11, 11-9, 7-11.

Saurav Ghosal, India’s number one men’s player lost his semi-final match against Chung Ming Au of Hong Kong China after suffering a leg injury. Ghosal seemed to be winning after winning the first two games, but the injury set him back and he lost the next three games and the match.

On Day 8, Equestrian Fouaad Mirza secured India’s first individual medal in the event since 1982 Asian Games. Finishing behind Japan’s Oiwa Yoshiaki, he bagged silver in the Eventing competition. Fouaad topped the dressage and cross-country qualifiers. In the finals, he scored 26.40 to seal the silver medal in the three-day event.

Fouaad was also part of the Indian team that also won silver in the Eventing team event. Fouaad, Jitender Singh, Akash Malik and Rakesh Kumar came in second place with a combined score of 121.30.

On the second day of athletics events, India bagged more medals courtesy of Hima Das, Muhammed Anas, and Dutee Chand.

Hima Das and Muhammed Anas won silver in the 400m women’s and men’s finals respectively. Hima broke the national record with a timing of 50.79 seconds. The 18-year-old from Assam took up sprinting in 2016 after the insistence of her PE teacher. A month ago, she became the first Indian track athlete to win a gold medal at the Under-20 World Athletics Championships.

Anas who topped the qualifications for the 400-meter finals finished second in the finals affected by a steady drizzle. He did admit that the drizzle tightened his muscles and turned his body tight.

“My aim was to get a medal, the colour of the medal doesn’t matter. I am happy I got silver. There were some issues at the start of the start of the season. I wanted to train with my personal coach PV Jayakumar, but they asked me to attend the Indian camp. Anyway, I am happy I could end the season in a better way,” Anas said after the race.

Dutee Chand missed out on gold in the 100-meter finals by just 0.2 seconds. What a run it was by the Indian sprinter from start to finish. In a photo-finish race, the controversy hit athlete was all smiles after her stupendous running effort.

Heartbreak for Lakshmanan Govindan who came in third in the 10,000-metre finals but was later disqualified. He was disqualified because his foot touched the inside of the track once in the 24-lap race. The AFI has appealed for a repeal of the disqualification as he Lakshmanan did not gain an advantage over any of the other athletes. The army man came in third but the fourth-placed runner was a lap or so behind Lakshmanan which might come into consideration when the referees evaluate the appeal. Until then, Lakshmanan has to play the wait and watch the game.

Other Matches

The Indian men’s hockey team beat Korea 5-3 in their Pool A encounter. This is the first time that the team has conceded any goals in the competition.

The women’s hockey team also continued their dominant performance in a close encounter with Korea. With the score tied at 1-1 in the last quarter, India scored three goals in three minutes to win the game. Gurjit Kaur struck twice in the fourth quarter.

Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu also assured India of medals by reaching the semi-finals of the single’s badminton events.

The Indian women’s and men’s compound archery teams are through to the finals.

India’s medal tally: Gold 7, Silver 10, Bronze 19, Total 36