India's top 5 moments at Asian Games 2023
While all medals are a testament to Indian athletes' determination and tenacity to succeed, a few moments stood out because they were unseen in Indian sports history. The Bridge picks India's top 5 moments at the Asian Games 2023.
India won an unprecedented 107 medals, including 28 gold, 38 silver, and 41 bronze, for the first time at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
It was India's best-ever show at the Asiad. The country's previous best - 70 medals - came at the Jakarta Asiad in 2018.
While all medals are a testament to Indian athletes' determination and tenacity to succeed, a few moments stood out because they were unseen in Indian sports history.
Two Indians securing the top two finishes on the podium at a prestigious sporting spectacle is a rare scene in Indian sports. But Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Kumar Jena winning the gold and silver medals at the Asian Games 2023 was a moment to savour for a long time for all Indians.
The two Indian athletes dominated the men's javelin throw event and won the top two medals as their bragging rights.
With Commonwealth Games champion Arshad Nadeem missing the event, Neeraj was almost certain of a gold medal.
But Neeraj's gold and Kishore's silver did not come without a controversy sparked by the Chinese officials.
With the officials declaring Neeraj's first throw invalid, Kishore nudged his fellow Indian thrower behind by throwing the javelin to 86.77 metres. Kishore was on the top of the pole briefly.
Neeraj, however, eventually claimed the gold medal with a remarkable throw measuring 88.88 metres, as Kishore Kumar secured the silver medal with a best throw of 87.54 metres, bringing in the good news for Indian athletics and javelin throw.
While Neeraj thumped his authority over Asia by defending his gold, Kishore announced his arrival on the big occasion by securing the silver medal.
Long-distance runner Parul Chaudhary displayed tremendous tenacity, stamina and grit to win a gold medal in the women's 5000m after a silver in the 3000m steeplechase at the Asian Games.
Parul pulled off a stunning show after missing the steeplechase gold medal.
With less than 50 metres from the finish line, Parul ramped up her pace to push Japan’s Ririka Hironaka behind to clinch the gold medal.
Hironaka led the race comfortably for a major part. But by the fag end of the competition, Parul edged her out to fetch the gold medal and become the first Indian woman ever to win the 5000m event at the Asiad.
For the 28-year-old Uttar Pradesh athlete, the gold has the weight of a job as a DSP in the UP Police.
Parul, who hailed from a middle-class family, has always yearned for a respectable job. Her silver and gold medal-winning performances are all set to fulfil her dream of getting the position of DSP in the police department.
Satwik-Chirag enthralled Chinese fans
While the Indian athletes endured a hostile atmosphere throughout the Asian Games, Satwik-Chirag, with their crafty game, won the hearts of partisan Chinese crowds at the BJ Gymnasium arena in the men's doubles final and clinched the gold medal.
The doubles duo overcame influenza and lack of recovery time to fulfil the much-awaited goal of winning the gold medal for Indian badminton at the Asian Games.
Displaying brilliant application of their game plans and variations in strokes and placement - whether against Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the semifinals or Choi Solgyu and Kim Winho in the final - the men's doubles duo clinched Indian badminton's maiden gold at the Asian Games. That the medal came in doubles - which for many years was viewed as a discipline not worth considering in the Indian context - made the moment even sweeter.
Ayhik-Muthirtha's overwhelmed world champions
The Mukherjees of Naihati - Ayhika and Sutirtha - could not reach the final, but they left the Asian Games scripting history. They became the first Indian women's doubles pair to win a table tennis medal at the Asian Games.
It was a celebrated feat since they won the medal by taking down the reigning world champions - Cheng Meng and Yidi Wang of China - in front of a boisterous Chinese crowd.
Table tennis, the number one sport in China due to its immense popularity in China, enjoys a proud place in the country's sports hierarchy. Thus, when Ayhika and Sutirtha won the quarterfinal match against Meng and Wang 11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 11-9, the Chinese fans considered it a direct slap in their face.
Though Ayhika-Sutirtha could not advance to the final, their bronze medal was worth the weight of gold because of the sheer determination they showed to beat a higher-ranked Chinese pair in front of a buzzing crowd.
Archery clean sweep
Indian archers wrapped up the Games with their best-ever performance and staggering nine medals, including five gold medals and a clean sweep in all five compound archery events - both team and individual categories.
With this outstanding performance, India also edged out powerhouse South Korea from the pole position, winning one more gold than the Koreans, completing their ascendency in the continental showpiece. Korea, who topped the archery medal tally for ten editions in a row, lost the lead for the first time. Leading the pack from the front, Jyothi Surekha Vennam and Ojas Pravin Deotale notched up a hat-trick of gold medals.