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Asian Games

Neeraj Chopra & pathbreaking women: India’s triumphant outing at the 2018 Asian Games

With 30 days left for the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games, The Bridge looks back at the last edition, which remains India's most successful edition so far.

Neeraj Chopra & pathbreaking women: India’s triumphant outing at the 2018 Asian Games

Tejaswin Shankar, Neeraj Chopra and Vinesh Phogat click a photo during the 2018 Asian Games


Abon Gooptu

Updated: 23 Aug 2023 12:14 AM GMT

With 30 days to go before the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games, which are scheduled to take place in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8, speculation is rife on how well India will do at the continental meet this time.

At the last edition five years ago in Jakarta, Indonesia, India finished with 70 medals - 16 gold medals, 23 silver medals, and 31 bronze medals. This marked the first time that India had reached the seventy-medal threshold at the Asiad. Before the 2018 Asian Games, India’s best performance was at the 2010 Guangzhou Games with 65 medals.

India finished in 8th place among 45 participating nations in the medal tally.

Some of the most memorable features of the last Asiad edition were Neeraj Chopra's throwing down of the gauntlet with an Asian gold in javelin, Vinesh Phogat and Rahi Sarnobat becoming the first women to medal at their sports for India, and some unexpected joy in sepak takraw, bridge and even table tennis.

The 2018 Jakarta Asian Games opening ceremony saw a young Neeraj Chopra lead the Indian contingent with the Indian flag flying high. It was a fitting start to what would be a record-breaking outing for India.

Which were the most successful sports for India?

Athletics, shooting, and wrestling were India’s most successful sports in the 2018 Asia Games.

India bagged 20 medals, including 8 gold medals in athletics. India’s golden boy, Neeraj Chopra set a new national record and clinched India’s first javelin gold medal with an impressive throw of 88.06m.

Additionally, Jinsons Johnson’s 1500m gold medal was India’s first medal in the discipline in two decades and Arpinder Singh’s golden jump of 16.77m secured India’s first triple jump gold medal in 48 years. Tajinderpal Singh Toor also grabbed the spotlight when his shot-put throw of 20.75m shattered the national record and Asian Games record.

In wrestling, Vinesh Phogat’s gold medal in the women's freestyle 50 kg category was a moment for the history books as she became the first Indian woman wrestler to taste gold at the Asiad.

Meanwhile, Vinesh’s cousin, Babita Kumari Phogat went on to clinch gold as well in the women's freestyle 53kg category.

The glory didn’t stop there for Indian women. Rahi Sarnobat became the first Indian woman to win a medal in shooting at the Asian Games with her gold medal in the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol event.

India's 2018 Asian Games medals by sport

Lawn Tennis1023
Field Hockey0112
Table Tennis0022

India's 2018 Asian Games medals by sport. [Note - India's total medal tally of 69 medals comprised 15 gold medals. But when Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya failed a doping test, India's mixed relay team's silver was later upgraded to gold and Anu Raghavan was moved up to bronze in the Women's 400m Hurdles discipline.]

A year of many firsts

India bagged a bronze medal in sepaktakraw (men’s regu event), marking the nation’s first medal in the discipline since the Asian Games debut of the sport in 1990.

With a score of 6026 points, Swapna Barman’s heptathlon gold was India’s first-ever in the discipline.

Stunning performances from Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu ensured India’s first women’s medals at the Asiad with a bronze and silver respectively. It was the first time Indian shuttlers clinched a medal in the individual event since Syed Modi in 1982. Sindhu became India’s first shuttler to grace the Asiad final of a singles badminton event.

With the debut of bridge as an Asiad sport, the duo of Pranab Bardhan and Shibnath Sarkar etched their names in history by winning the gold medal in the Men’s Pair event. India also bagged bronze in the Men’s Team and Mixed Team events.

Vikas Krishan Yadav secured bronze in Men’s 75kg Boxing. This consequently meant that Vikas became the first Indian boxer to win a medal in three successive editions of the Asiad.

A bronze medal each for the Indian men’s team and mixed doubles team led to India securing its first-ever Asian Games medal in table tennis.

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