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Asian Games 2023, September 30: A day of history and heartbreaks

The eighth day of the Asian Games 2023 was the perfect recipe for a delicious meal for an Indian sports fan, with everything in perfect balance.

Asian Games 2023, September 30: A day of history and heartbreaks

Pritish Raj

Updated: 1 Oct 2023 3:46 AM GMT

In multi-sports events, there can be days full of heartbreaks, days full of history, or days full of disappointment. The 30th of September, 2023, was one such extraordinary day where the spectrum of human experiences played out.

From Indian paddlers breaching the Chinese stronghold in their own backyard to the squash team getting better in a dogfight to Gulveer Singh running to the podium with a bleeding leg - India has had moments of absolute glory.

Here is how one of the best days of Indian sports unfolded on Saturday at the Asian Games 2023:


India started the day with a heartbreak when shooter Sarabjot Singh shot a 9.9 in the final of 10m air pistol mixed team final and missed out on a chance to make his birthday sweeter. India won the silver medal as Sarabjot and Divya TS went down against the Chinese pair of Zhang Bowen and Jiang Ranxin.

A comforting embrace from the coach might have alleviated the disappointment, but the duo of Sarabjot and Divya remained disheartened by the near miss of the coveted gold medal.

The heartbreaks continued for India in table tennis, as the men's doubles pair of Manav Thakkar and Manush Shah's majestic show was not enough to get the better of top seeded South Korean pair of Woojin Jang and Jonghoon Lim in the quarterfinal.

In a roller coaster match, the Indian team held the Koreans in a vice grip until the very last game taking the fight in the deciding fifth game, rekindling hopes of a historic upset and a momentous medal for India. But they succumbed to a 3-2 defeat in the match.

In another heartbreaking outcome, Manika Batra went down fighting 2-4 against the Chinese player Wang Yidi.

But the biggest heartbreak of the day perhaps came in weightlifting when Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu failed to secure her elusive Asian Games medal despite pouring her heart and soul into the effort.

So much so, that she had to be carried off the stage after falling flat on her back while attempting a lift.

Even though she finished fourth place, it cannot belittle Mirabai's insatiable hunger for the elusive medal, pushing herself even beyond the limits of imagination, only to have her heart broken in the end.

Historic performances

The second half of the day, however, was exhilarating for India.

After two heartbreaks, Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutitrtha Mukherjee turned the table in table tennis as they defeated Chinese world champions and home favourites to create history.

Battling a partisan crowd, and superior opponents, the Indian duo maintained their calm and counter-attacked regularly to fetch the winners, taking the Chinese by surprise. They defeated world no. 2 Meng Cheng and Wang Yidi (11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 11-9) to leave the crowd stunned and Chinese coach Mal Lin frustrated.

In a single victory, the pair from West Bengal not only secured India's maiden medal in the history of the Asian Games but also became the first duo, across all categories, to advance to the semifinal.

The racquet sports continued to deliver as the Indian men's squash team defeated Pakistan in an intense final, ultimately reclaiming the coveted gold medal after nearly a decade. India's last squash men's team gold came at the 2014 Asiad.

In a crazy game, India's ever-dependent Saurav Ghosal defeated Muhammad Asim of Pakistan and made it 1-1 after Mahesh Mangaonkar lost the first match.

Eventually, everything fell on young Abhay Singh, who had lost a match in the previous meeting.

'When the going gets tough, the tough get going' was characterised on the court as Abhay saved two medal points and scored the winner to snatch the gold medal from the grip of Pakistan.

The Indian men's badminton team, meanwhile, defeated South Korea in an epic five-hour marathon battle to make it to their first-ever final at the team event in the Asian Games.

This historic feat was confirmed by two veterans of the game. HS Prannoy won the first match despite a heavily strapped back and Kidambi Srikanth, who conceded the first game lead meekly, found his form back in the nick of time. Srikanth fought his way back against Cho Geonyeop to claim the next two games and the tie for India. India will play China in the gold medal on Sunday.

With India already having a crazy day, the fans finally enjoyed a soothing victory when the Indian men's team, the dominant side, pummled Pakistan 10-2 in a group fixture, which was billed as the game of the tournament. But it turned out to be an one-sided affair.

The multi-sporting events are hectic for everyone - be it athletes or fans. But a day like September 30 remind us why we are drawn to sports- to bask in the moments of glory.

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