As the curtains came down on the 2018 Jakarta Palembang meet on Sunday evening, India was celebrating its best Asian Games performance with a rich haul of 69 medals.
With 15 gold medals, India matched their earlier best count that came at the 1951 Delhi Asian Games. The overall medal haul of 69, including 24 silver medals and 30 bronze medals, was the country’s best ever. It surpassed the earlier best Asian Games performance of 65 medals at the 2010 Guangzhou meet.
Golden Run In Athletics
India’s best Asian Games performance came in Athletics, where it won 19 medals, including seven gold.
Three of these gold medals marked the first time that an Indian had beaten the rest of the competition at an Asian Games – the Women’s Heptathlon win by Swapna Barman, the Men’s Javelin throw victory of Neeraj Chopra, and the Men’s Triple Jump win by Arpinder Singh.
And the gold medal in the Women’s 4x400m relay was the fifth consecutive time that India had won the event since the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
This was the third time that India won seven gold medals in Asian Games athletics, the earlier ones being at the 1978 Bangkok Games and the 2002 Busan Games.
Creating History In Badminton
Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu became the first Indian women badminton players to win individual Asian Games medals. While Nehwal lost to world no.1 Tai Tzu Ying in the semi-final, PV Sindhu went on to reach the final and win the Women’s singles silver medal.
Impressive List Of Firsts
India’s best Asian Games performance also had some significant firsts.
Vinesh Phogat became the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the Asian Games (50kg freestyle category). Rahi Sarnobat etched her name firmly in the record books, becoming the first Indian female shooter to win an individual gold medal at the Asian Games.
Sixteen-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary created a new Games record winning the gold medal in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol event.
This was also the first time that India won medals in Table Tennis. India won the men’s team bronze medal. Mannika Batra became the first Indian woman to win a bronze medal in the game, after making it to the semi-final of the Mixed Doubles event with Sharath Kamal.
India won the gold medal in the Men’s Pair Event in Bridge, an event that had been introduced for the first time.
Faltering In Hockey, Kabaddi
India went into the competition as the firm favourites to win the Men’s Hockey title. They came up with resounding wins in their group games, but crashed out in the semi-finals, losing 6-7 to Malaysia in a penalty shootout.
The team won the bronze medal, defeating arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1. The women’s hockey team reached the finals, but lost to Japan 1-2 to receive the silver medal.
India also disappointed in Kabaddi, failing to win a gold medal for the first time since it was introduced in the 1990 Asian Games.