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Asian Games

Analysing India's performance at the Asian Games over the years

Athletics has been India's most successful sport at the Asian Games for the past 8 decades, followed by Wrestling and Shooting. But as the last edition showed, Indians have now started winning medals in some new sports.

Analysing Indias performance at the Asian Games over the years

Neeraj Chopra leads India's contingent at the 2018 Asian Games


Abon Gooptu

Updated: 13 Sep 2023 4:47 PM GMT
India has had its fair share of glory, heartbreaks, perseverance, and fairytale stories at the Asian Games since the first edition of the continental event 72 years ago.
With each passing edition, India's sporting prowess has been elevated to new heights, with some new sports like sepak takraw and bridge joining the well-established sports like athletics, hockey and wrestling in contributing to India's medal cabinet.
In this article, we look at India's legacy at the iconic Asian Games, with a closer look at historical performances over the decades.
India at each Asian Games edition
India has amassed 672 medals throughout 18 editions of the Asian Games. It is the fifth-most successful nation at the Asian Games. Along with Japan, India is the only nation to win gold medals at each edition.
Games EditionRankGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1951, New Delhi215162051
1954, Manila554817
1958, Tokyo754413
1962, Jakarta310131033
1966, Bangkok5731121
1970, Bangkok5691025
1974, Tehran74121228
1978, Bangkok61111628
1982, New Delhi513192557
1986, Seoul5592337
1990, Beijing11181423
1994, Hiroshima8431623
1998, Bangkok97111735
2002, Busan711121336
2006, Doha810172653
2010, Guangzhou614173465
2014, Incheon811103657
2018, Jakarta816233170
The graph above depicts India's gold, silver, and bronze medals at the Asian Games (1951-2018).
India's sports medal tally
Throughout eighteen editions of the Asian Games, India's remarkable performances in athletics, wrestling, and shooting have garnered the most medals. At the Asian level, India has been established as a superpower in these sports. Among team sports, hockey and kabaddi has seen an Indian dominance.


Cue Sports354615
Board Games23047
Water Polo51113
Roller Sports70022
Table Tennis100022
1951 Asian Games
The first Asian Games witnessed only 11 nations participating and led to one of India's most successful outings at the Asiad.
The legendary Lavy Pinto secured gold in the 100m and 200m discipline and would later win a third medal in the shape of silver in the 4x100m men's relay.
Sachin Nag grabbed India's first and only swimming gold at the Asian Games as he dominated the 100m freestyle event and topped the charts.
Indian athletes dominated the long-distance events with Ranjit Singh (800m), Nikka Singh (1500m), Chhota Singh (Marathon), Mahabir Prasad (10,000m walk), and Bakhtawar Singh (50km walk) all topping the charts, and winning gold.
Madan Lal and Makhan Singh won India's first gold in Shot Put and Discus Throw and Barbara Webster would go on to pull off the bronze double in the women's shot put and javelin throw.
The men's water polo team secured India's first and only gold in the discipline and K.P. Thakkar won gold in the 3m springboard and 10m platform diving events.
Meanwhile, the men's national football team clinched their first Asiad gold in 1951.

Former India PM Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurates the 1951 Asian Games

The inaugural edition of the Asian Games is the only edition in history where India has found a place on the podium for cycling. Rohinton Noble and Netai Chand Bysack's bronze medals in Men's Spring and 1km time trial are still India's only individual cycling medals.

Kamineni Eswara Rao (silver) and Dandamudi Rajagopal (bronze) grabbed India's first Asian Games medals in weightlifting.

1954 Asian Games
In comparison to the 1951 Asian Games, the quality and quantity of competition witnessed a great rise with more Asian nations opting to compete. India's medal consequently suffered a big blow. The nation's medal tally was 1/3rd of its outing in 1951 and is the nation's worst performance at the Asiad to date.
Sarwan Singh (110m Hurdle), Ajit Singh Balla (High Jump), and Parduman Singh Brar (Shot Put and Discus Throw) were the only Indian athletes to return home with gold in individual events.
1958 Asian Games
It was at the Tokyo Asian Games where the Flying Sikh Milkha Singh cemented his position as the fastest Asian athlete. He tasted gold in the 200m and 400m discipline with a timing of 21.6s and 47.0s respectively.

Milkha Singh wins gold in the 1958 Asian Games

The Indian men's volleyball team clinched bronze at the 1958 Asian Games would mark India's first Volleyball medal at the Asiad.

Mohinder Singh would go on to secure India's first Asiad gold in the Triple Jump with a leap of 15.62m.
1962 Asian Games
Indian boxing witnessed its first Asian champion when Padam Bahadur Mall became the first Indian to clinch boxing gold.

Gurbachan Singh Randhawa would also bring home India's first Decathlon gold at the Asiad and Elizabeth Davenport became the first Indian to clinch medals in Javelin in two successive editions of the Asiad.

Henry Shaw's bronze medal in the 50m Rifle Event was the first instance of an Indian securing an Asian Games shooting medal.

1966 Asian Games

It was a watershed moment in Indian history as the Indian men's national hockey team secured its first Asian Games gold. The team had come agonizingly close in the two previous editions but had to settle for silver on both occasions, as arch-rivals Pakistan won gold.

Ajmer Singh was the pick of the Indian athletes for on-track events as he almost pulled off a Milka Singh-esque performance as he tasted gold in the 400m event but had to settle for silver in the 200m event.

1970 Asian Games

It was in 1970 that India last emerged triumphant in football at the Asian Games when PK Banerjee's men secured a bronze medal. India has not finished in the top three ever since.

Class of '70: India's last Asian-level medal-winning football side

Kamaljeet Sandhu found herself at the epicenter of history as she became the first Indian woman to win an individual gold medal at the Asian Games. She topped the charts in the 400m discipline with a timing of 57.3 seconds.

Makarand Joshi won the historic bronze medal in the men's vault event, marking India's first and only gymnastics medal at the Asian Games.

1974 Asian Games

Eight out of the eleven golds for India stemmed from the discipline of athletics. It was a grand showing from Ramaswamy Gnanasekaran and Hari Chand. Gnanasekaran secured gold in the men's 100m and silver in the men's 200m. Whereas Hari Chand's fate with glory resulted in gold medals in the 5000m and 10,000m disciplines.

Angel Mary Joseph's pentathlon silver would end up being India's only medal in the history of the event at the Asian Games.

1978 Asian Games

TC Yohannan made a golden-laden leap of faith and recorded a memorable long jump gold at the 1978 Asian Games. His jump of 8.07m would stand as the national record for over three decades.

Randhir Singh (Men's Trap Shotgun) became the first Indian to taste gold in the discipline of Shooting at the Asian Games.

1982 Asian Games

As the Asiad returned to India after a hiatus of 31 years, it produced historic moments in Indian sports.

As equestrian made its Asiad debut, India won its first equestrian medals when Raghubir Singh and Rupinder Singh Brar won individual gold medals and the Indian team secured gold in the team event. India would not win another equestrian medal till the heroics of Fouaad Mirza in 2018.

India would record its first and only gold medal in sailing as Farokh Tarapore and Zarir Karanjia secured first place in the Fireball event. Tarapore would go on to become the most successful Indian sailor at the Asiad with five Asian Games medals to his name.

The iconic Syed Modi would clinch a historic bronze medal in badminton, marking India's first individual medal at the event.

Women's hockey made its grand debut in 1982 and the Indian women's national hockey team would go on a rampage of a historic undefeated run to clinch gold.

The 1982 Asiad was a watershed moment for Indian rowing as a bronze in Coxed pair (Pravin Uberoi, Mohammed Amin Naik, Deependra Tomar) would mark India's first.

Furthermore, as golf made its Asiad debut, Lakshman Singh would win an individual gold while the India team additionally tasted gold as well.

1986 Asian Games

The 1986 Asian Games was simply the P.T. Usha Games. The legendary P.T. Usha won 5 medals in athletics with 4 of them being gold. Usha placed first in the 200m, 400m, 400m Hurdles, and 4x400m women's relay and shattered the Asian Games record in all of the events. But we were soon reminded that even PT Usha is human as she had to settle for silver in the 100m discipline.

The 1986 Asian Games also marked India's first volleyball medal as the Indian contingent secured bronze.

With the introduction of Judo at the Asian Games, India brought back four bronze Judo medals.

1990 Asian Games

The 1990 Asian Games marked the dawn of India's ever-so-dominant performances in Kabaddi. The Indian team won gold in the inaugural year of Kabaddi in 1990 and would maintain a near-flawless record with a gold in each edition till the 2018 Asian Games.

1994 Asian Games

Johnny Rommel and Siji Kumar Sadanandan would record India's first and only canoeing medal at the Asian Games. The duo secured bronze in the Men's C2 1000m event.

Leander Paes would also have a memorable outing by tasting gold twice at the 1994 Asiad. Paes clinched bronze in the men's singles event. He would later partner with Gaurav Natekar to win India's first tennis gold by emerging triumphant in the men's doubles event.

1998 Asian Games

The 1998 Asiad saw the debut of Billiard and Ashok Shandliya would record India's first gold in English Billiards singles and proceed to pair up with Geet Sethi to win another gold in English Billiards doubles.

Jyotirmoyee Sikdar was the pick of the on-track athletes as she pulled off a double-Gold in 800m and 1500m.

2002 Asian Games

Sunita Rani stole the limelight as she emerged as the Asian Games 1500m record holder with a timing of 4:06:03.

Anju Bobby George would soon enough be the one to grab headlines as she would go on to win the gold medal in the women's long jump event.

Soma Biswas announced herself to Indian athletics and won India's first heptathlon medal at the Asian Games.

Surendra Bhandari would enter his name into the history books when he won India's first and only Taekwondo medal at the Asian Games with his bronze medal.

Yasin Merchant and Rafat Habib secured gold in the Snooker doubles event, recording India's first and only gold in the discipline.

2006 Asian Games

Bimoljit Singh became the first Indian to win an Asian Games medal in Wushu when he clinched bronze in the 60kg sanda event.

Saurav Ghosal's bronze in the men's singles event led to India's first individual medal in Squash.

Sania Mirza became the first Indian woman to clinch a medal in an individual event with her silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games.

2006 was also the year that the Indian archery team recorded its first medal in archery with a bronze in the men's recurve team event.

Humpy Koneru would also win a historic gold in Chess (Women Individual-Rapid) to secure India's first individual gold in the discipline.

2010 Asian Games

The 2010 Asiad witnessed India's only medal in gymnastics to date with Ashish Kumar securing a memorable bronze in the men's artistic floor event.

Bajrang Lal Takhar brought back home India's first gold in rowing with a stellar performance in the single sculls event and Sudha Singh became the first Indian to win gold in the 3000m steeplechase.

It was a historical outing for roller sports as Anup Kumar Yama was the epicenter of securing India's only two medals in the discipline. Yarma won bronze in the men's free artistic skating and paired with Avani Panchal to clinch bronze in the men's pair free artistic skating.

Women's Kabaddi made its first appearance at the 2010 Asiad and the Indian women's kabaddi team would ensue in their Asiad dominance and secure their first gold medal.

2014 Asian Games

The iconic Mary Kom announced herself to the grand stage by dominating the Flyweight 51kg category and consequently, became the first Indian woman to clinch gold in boxing at the Asiad.

The Indian relay team comprising Priyanka Pawar, Tintu Luka, Mandeep Kaur, and Machettira Raju Poovamma shattered the 4x400m women's relay Asian Games record by securing gold.

Manju Bala became the first Indian woman to make it to the Asian Games podium in hammer throw with her spectacular performance earning her a historic silver medal.

Indian archery scripted a memorable performance as it won its first Asiad gold in the Compound Men's team event.

2018 Asian Games

The 2018 Asian Games marked the first time that India crossed the 70-medal benchmark in a single Asian Games edition.

Neeraj Chopra wove his name into history by becoming the first Indian to clinch javelin gold with a national record throw of 88.06m.

Amidst the women, Swapna Barman’s heptathlon gold was India’s first-ever in the discipline. PV Sindhu became the first Indian to reach the final of a singles badminton event and secured India's best performance in badminton thus far with a historic silver medal whilst Saina Nehwal tasted bronze.

Rahi Sarnobat (25-meter rapid-fire pistol) became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in shooting at the Asian Games and Vinesh Phogat (Women's Freestyle 50kg) became the first Indian woman to win a wrestling gold at the Asiad.

India would go on to record its first medals in sepaktakraw and table tennis.

As Bridge made its Asiad debut, Pranab Bardhan and Shibnath Sarkar won gold in the Men's Pair Event.

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