India’s display at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games has been remarkable, especially the fact that the contingent has emerged to win medals in events in which it was least expected. Another astonishing point to be noted about the medal wins is that many of the winners are either Army Men or worked for the Armed Forces earlier. Let us have a look at some of these athletes.
Jinson Johnson’s outing at the 2016 Rio Olympics was a forgettable one in which he was disqualified in the heats itself. But he was adamant to make a top-three finish at the ongoing Jakarta Asian, and he delivered. Reasonably disappointed not to claim the Gold medal, the sprinter from Kerala’s Silver medal is an achievement to savour. He was only behind his country mate Manjit Singh who scripted a top podium finish, India’s first in the track event after 36 years!
He studied at the St. George’s School in Kulathuvayal before graduating from Baselius College in Kottayam. Following his training at the Kerala Sports Council hostel in Kottayam, he joined the Indian Army in 2009. Later, in 2015, Johnson started working as a junior commissioned officer in Hyderabad. But he will be remembered for being India’s one of the most consistent athletes for a long time.
Fouad Mirza started riding horses at the age of 5 and made his competitive debut at the age of 8! He was destined to represent India in International events. Apart from his triumph, the Indian team including Fouaad, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Malik and Jitender Singh also won a Silver medal in their competition. It was an unexpected outing for the Indians at the Asian Games in this particular event. Fouaad Mirza works for the Indian Navy while the others work for the Indian Army.
The Indian Equestrian Team also missed out on a berth at the mega event mainly due to the negligence of the body which runs it, the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI). The Federation had selected a team in May but later cancelled the selection because the selection was void. Following that, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) said that no equestrian squad would be sent to Jakarta due to discrepancies in the selection, but later a seven-member squad was selected for the Asiad.
Sanjeev Rajput was another Indian who proved that one has to overcome imposters in life and look forward. The Haryana based shooter’s claimed his first individual medal at the Asian Games by winning Silver in the 50m rifle three positions. Although he won medals at the Asiad in the previous three editions, all of them came in team events.
After he completed his swimming in Haryana, Sanjeev joined the Indian Navy as a sailor at the age of 18. It was in the year 2004 that he gained prominence in the shooting arena. Since then, he changed his course and triggered his life to become a successful sportsman in the discipline. This win was even more remarkable because he was recently charged with alleged rape attempt on a national level shooter. But, keeping aside all his troubles, he managed to make our nation proud in Jakarta.
Sawarn Singh, Om Prakash, Dattu Bhokanal and Sukhmeet Singh were greeted grandly after they returned at the Army Rowing Node, but many thought that the team could have won more medals at the Games. “Our expectations were more. But the final tally which included gold after a long time gave us satisfaction,” said the assistant coach and a Dronacharya award winner Ismail Baig.
All the rowers are Armymen; the entire team fought like brave soldiers on the day it mattered the most. Veteran Sawarn Singh’s inspirational words ahead of the race encouraged the others to bring the best out of them. “Yesterday we had a bad day, but soldiers never give up. I told my teammates that we would go for the gold and we will give it all. It was about karo ya maro (do or die). And we did it,” said Sawarn Singh to the other rowers before the race.
23-year old Tajinderpal Singh Toor surprised everyone by winning the Men’s Shot Put event in Indonesia. Looking at his body language, hardly anyone could make out that his father, who encouraged him to take up the sport is fighting stage four cancer. Sardar Karam Singh, Tajinder’s father, is a farmer and is suffering from bone cancer was the main reason he shifted his loyalties to shot put from cricket. The shot putter works for the Indian Navy under sports quota.
The Indian Navy is helping in the treatment of his father Sardar, who is currently being diagnosed at the Command Hospital in Panchkula. But the youngster is focused on his career right now and will be preparing for his next tournament after visiting his father for a couple of days. “Now, I will meet my dad, but I will be there for only two days. I have to get ready for the next challenge. My coach MS Dhillon also needs to be credited for the hard work put in by him,” said Tajinder while speaking to The Times of India.