Asiad: India has a long track to cover

Asiad: India has a long track to cover

Every four years, the Asian Games hold a mirror in front of the nations of the continent, reflecting their status on the sporting sphere. The bottom line – the final medals tally – is a true indicator of the progress, or the lack of it, in a nation’s graph. Eleven gold in a total of 57 medals and an eighth place, as such, give a correct picture of where India stand on the continent, at the end of the 17th edition of the multi-discipline extravaganza. A clutch of bright performances and a long list of insipid ones marked India’s stay in the South Korean city of Incheon. Their latest show compares favourably with the past editions of the Games. In terms of total medals won, this is the second time that India have won 57 medals like in Guangzhou in 2010 and when it comes to gold, it is the fourth time that India have won 11. Beyond these figures however, a disquieting lack of progress in several disciplines is glaringly apparent.

The Guangzhou Asiad came soon after the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and the preparations were on solid ground then, helping India to their best-ever total medal haul. The intervening four years have seen India passing through a crisis on the administrative front, with the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association and also the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation hitting the country hard. India, thus, could not cash in on the momentum generated by the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. Despite that, the Indians could return with happy faces from Incheon, with triumphs in a handful of disciplines masking the appalling failures in others. Hockey stands out in the list of achievers thanks to the gold medal that graced the Indian hands after 16 years -- its significance enhanced by the fact that the country is assured of a berth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games without having to endure a painful qualification process. Athletics and shooting managed to come up with face-saving performances and tennis had to thank Sania Mirza for its lone gold. Team efforts were the key in gold medals in squash, kabaddi and compound archery but India also had two outstanding individual performances in Incheon – Yogeshwar Dutt in wrestling and M C Mary Kom in boxing.

While the returns might look meagre for the big squad that India sent to Incheon, it has to be said the medal count largely matched the expectations. The projection of 70 medals made by the Sports Authority of India was always going to be off the mark in the current scenario and it turned out that way, with Incheon underlining the fact that India have a long way to go to match the sporting heavyweights of the continent.

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