After a successful and a memorable outing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, the next pit stop for the large 572-member Indian contingent is the upcoming Asian Games. India performed exceptionally well and finished third in the medals tally behind Australia and England with 66 medals (26 gold, 20 silver, 20 bronze) at CWG 2018.
However, all eyes will be on Indonesia now which will host the 18th edition of the quadrennial event that is scheduled to take place from August 18 to September 2 in the two cities — Jakarta and Palembang. Around 10,000 athletes from 45 countries will participate in 40 sports throughout the tournament.
In the 2014 edition of Asian Games, India finished at eighth spot in the medals tally in Incheon and will look to better that record this time. In Incheon, the Indians came up with a medal haul of 57 that included 11 Gold, 9 Silver, and 37 Bronze medals.
In the upcoming Games, the Indians will be competing in 34 disciplines out of 40 sports. Here at India.com, we take a close look at our top 10 medal hopefuls for Asian Games 2018:-
PV Sindhu: Arguably, the biggest non-cricketing superstar sportsperson in the country of over 1.25 billion, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu will once again carry the maximum hopes of a silverware at the upcoming event. After a splendid show at the World Badminton Championships, Sindhu will leave no chance to break the final barrier and add the elusive gold to her already illustrious cabinet.
She has won a silver each at the CWG and Worlds this year, a gold at the Asian Games will definitely shut those voices which have lately questioned her temparement in the big finals.
Sushil Kumar: Apart from Sindhu, if there is one name which carries the maximum hopes for glory at the Asiad 2018, it could be none other than – Sushil Kumar. A name which needs no introduction, Sushil is undoubtedly the greatest sportsman ever-produced by India. The two-time Olympic medallist is regarded highly for his skills on the mat and always remain a top dog in wrestling irrespective of the tournament he is competing in. The 35-year old wrestler shunned all his doubters, who were questioning his fitness and age with a sterling performance to bag a gold (74 kg category) at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Sushil will once again is a strong favourite for gold in the 74 kg at the 2018 Asian Games.
Manika Batra: The ‘poster girl’ of women’s table tennis in India, Manika created history early this year after she single-handedly led the Indian team to a coveted gold at the Commonwealth Games 2018. With Manika on their side, India became the first country to defeat Singapore, who had never lost the event since the sport was introduced in the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
The 23-year old paddler also won gold in the singles competition and a silver and bronze in the doubles and mixed doubles events, respectively. She will once again carry a billion hopes of a medal from table tennis at the upcoming Asian Games.
Hima Das: The 18-year old Das created quite a stir all around the world when she became the first Indian to win a medal in any track event at the global level, senior or junior. Hima registered her name in the history books by winning the women’s 400-metre race with a record time of 51.46 metres at the 2018 IAAF Under – 20 World Championships. A repeat of Worlds will be expected from this fiery sprinter as she will set the track on fire in the 200m and 400m sprint events.
Neeraj Chopra: After being given the honour of becoming India’s flag-bearer at the upcoming Asian Games, Neeraj Chopra will share the burden of being India’s top medal contender in the men’s javelin throw event. The 20-year-old broke into the limelight with his 2016 World Under-20 gold medal in the javelin throw, a feat he accomplished with a junior world record.
The Panipat-born lad won a historic gold for India in athletics in the Javelin throw with a throw of 86.47 metres at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. With form on his side, Neeraj will be expected to pass the Jakarta test in some style and come out with flying colours.
Vikas Krishan Yadav: In absence of India’s ace pugilist – MC Mary Kom, Vikas Krishan will be spearheading the Indian boxing team’s charge in Jakarta. The two-time Asian Games medallist, has it all to continue his medal-winning habit and add another moment of glory to his account. The 26-year old boxer had won a gold medal at Asian Games 2010 followed by a bronze in the next tournament in Incheon. At the Commonwealth Games 2018, he came up with gold medal performance and defeated Dieudonne Wilfried Seyi Ntsengue of Cameroon in the final.
Manu Bhaker: Manu became the headlines of every national daily after her strong performance at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico where she became the youngest Indian to win a gold medal. The 16-year old continued her terrific run of form by clinching the gold medal in women’s 10 m air pistol event at 2018 Commonwealth Games in her maiden appearance at the Games. At the Asiad 2018, a lot of hopes will once again be riding on Manu who will take part in the Air Pistol and Sports Pistol Event.
Bajrang Punia: Hailed as a perfect successor to Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, Bajrang Punia is another gold medal contender for India in wrestling in the 65kg freestyle category. In his last seven tournament outings, Punia had managed to finish on the podium on all seven occasions, out of which five of them were on top. The 24-year old has been in the best form of his career since September 2017 and, not surprisingly, is firm favourite for gold at the upcoming Asian Games.
Heena Sidhu: Veteran shooter Heena Sidhu is the first Indian pistol shooter to win a gold medal in an ISSF World Cup final. The 28-year old Sidhu has been among the medals winnings silver medal in the women’s 10-metre air pistol event and a Gold medal in the women’s 25-metre air pistol event at 2018 Commonwealth Games. She broke the Commonwealth Games record of 38 in winning the gold medal.