A golden dream unfulfilled for over 30 years remained just that in women’s hockey but India equalled its best-ever medal haul as sailors joined the assorted contributors to the country’s tally at the 18th Asian Games on Friday. On the penultimate day of competitions, the euphoria of the track-and-field gold rush was far over but the momentum was certainly retained with a silver and a couple of bronze coming in from the sailing events.
The women’s hockey team, however, endured heartbreak, albeit not as big as the men. They lost to Japan 1-2 in the final despite being favourites for gold. But it was still a step up from the bronze that came in the 2014 edition. The men will square off against Pakistan tomorrow for a bronze.
India’s position in the overall tally was a steady eighth with 65 medals, which is the same as 2010 — the country’s best ever Asiad show. The haul includes 13 gold, 23 silver and 29 bronze medals. The highlight of the day was the sailing performance, India’s best showing.
Asian Games 2018: Day 13 Highlights | As it Happened
Varsha Gautham and Sweta Shervegar claimed silver in 49er FX event while two men combined to overcome disqualification in their previous race to grab a bronze.
Thanks to their showing, the country enjoyed its best result since 1982. In 1982, India won a gold in a fireball, a silver in enterprise and a bronze in wind-glider.
For Varsha, it was her second Asiad medal as she had won a bronze in 29er with Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan in the 2014 edition.
Varsha and Sweta were not chosen by the federation to represent India and only after a court battle did they reach the Indonesian capital.
At the helm of her 49erFX, 20-year-old Varsha and her crew partner Sweta, completed the 15-race event with 40 net points to finish second behind winners from Singapore, who had just 14 net points.
Sailors are given points after each race, and the pair, which gets the least points, is declared the winner.
“These were stressful three months. But everything has paid off. There were a lot of up and down. A lot happened. At least 10 times I thought, it’s not worth it, I can’t handle it but somehow I continued. It was certainly not a glamorous race, there was pressure,” Varsha said.
Varun Thakkar Ashok and Chengappa Ganapathy Kelapanda won bronze with a total of 53 after race 15 in the 49er men’s event.
The Indian women’s hockey team, however, failed to break its 36-year-old gold jinx. The loss will hurt the Indians badly as a gold here would have guaranteed a direct qualification in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Minami Shimizu and Motomori Kawamura scored for Japan through penalty corners in the 11th a 44th minute while Neha Goyal’s field goal in the 25th minute was the lone strike for India, who were aiming to win their first Asiad gold since 1982.
The Indians had qualified for the final of the Asian Games after a gap of 20 years gap, having beaten China in the semifinals.
There was plenty to celebrate in the squash competition. Joshna Chinappa upstaged eight-time world champion, Nicol David, as the Indian women’s squash team outplayed defending champions Malaysia 2-0 to enter its second successive Asian Games final.
The Indian men, who also entered the mega-event as defending champions, settled for bronze after a 0-2 loss to Hong Kong in the semifinals. Saurav Ghosal, who was not fully fit, and Harinder Pal Sandhu, lost to Max Lee and Leo Au, 0-3 and 1-3 respectively.
The loss came after the women’s team blanked the David-led Malaysia in the semifinals. The team, comprising Joshna, Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Sunayna Kuruvilla, is now assured of at least a silver.
In the boxing ring, it was day of mixed results and emotions.
Debutant Amit Panghal (49kg) continued his sensational run to make the final with a hard-fought win but an injured Vikas Krishan (75kg) had to settle for bronze after being declared medically unfit for his semifinal.
Amit was the lone Indian boxer to make the final in the ongoing edition, beating Philippines’ Carlo Paalam in a 3-2 verdict.
The 22-year-old Army man, who won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, will be up against reigning Olympic champion and world championships silver-medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the summit clash tomorrow.
Amit’s draining victory made up, to an extent, for the disappointment of Vikas being forced to withdraw from his last-four bout owing to a cut on his eyelid sustained in the pre-quarters.
The 26-year-old was to take on Kazakhstan’s Amankul Abilkhan this evening.
“There is inflammation in the retina as well and it is too risky to let him fight. He will have to take a break for a few weeks,” an official of the contingent told PTI.
India’s sensational run in the table tennis event came to an end after Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan and Manika Batra lost in the pre-quarterfinals of the singles competition. World number 33 Sharath Kamal went down fighting against 14th ranked Chih-Yuan Chunag of Chinese Taipei 7-11, 11-9, 10-12, 16-14, 9-11.
Sathiyan, who led India to a maiden medal in 60 years with his two wins against Japan in the team event, was not to able to do an encore against Kenta Matsudaira. He lost 11-9, 4-11, 9-11, 6-11, 10-12 in another round of 16 match.
Rising star Manika Batra won a game against world number five Wang Manyu but it was not enough to trouble the Chinese. She lost 2-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 4-11 in the women’s singles round of 16.
There was no respite from losses in judo and volleyball.
(With PTI Inputs)