Jakarta/Palembang (Indonesia), Aug 24 (IANS) A best-ever haul in rowing, underlined by a gold medal, a title winning performance in men’s doubles tennis and yet another historic defeat in kabaddi were the highlights of the Indian campaign at the 18th Asian Games on Friday.
Apart from this, the shooting ranges yielded yet another medal for India with Heena Sidhu taking bronze in women’s 10 metre Air Rifle. The squash singles stars made it to the semi-finals, ensuring three medals. This will be the first time ever that Indians will climb the podium in the squash competition.
India clinched a total of seven medals on the day, taking the eighth spot with a tally of six gold, five silver and 14 bronze. Global superpower China leads the list with 66 gold, 46 silver and 27 bronze medals.
This edition of the Asiad has showcased the considerable progress Indian rowers have made at the international level.
On Friday morning, the men’s quadruple sculls team of Sawarn Singh, Dattu Bhokanal, Om Prakash and Sukhmeet Singh added the golden touch to India’s best ever haul of three medals which include two bronze in the men’s lightweight single sculls and men’s lightweight double sculls categories.
The Indian quadruple sculls team clocked a time of 6 minutes and 17.13 seconds while hosts Indonesia clocked 6:20.58 to take the silver. Thailand had to be content with the bronze at 6:22.41.
This is only the second gold for India since they started participating in the rowing events at the Asiad. The first was won by Bajrang Lal Takhar in men’s singles sculls at the 2010 Games.
Dushyant started India’s campaign on the sixth day of the Asian Games on a positive note by bagging the bronze medal in the men’s lightweight single sculls final. The 25-year-old, who had also clinched a bronze at the 2014 Asiad, clocked a time of 7 minutes and 18.76 seconds to finish the competition at the third place.
India bagged another bronze when Bhagwan Singh and Rohit Kumar finished third in the men’s lightweight double sculls final.
Tennis stars Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan then added to the cheer in the Indian camp when they defeated Denis Yevseyev and Aleksandr Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4 in the men’s doubles final.
This is the fifth time that India have won gold in men’s doubles at the Asian Games. This is also the maiden Asian Games title for top seeds Rohan and Divij.
In the singles category, Prajnesh Gunneswaran had to settle for a bronze medal after being outplayed by Uzbek top seed Denis Istomin 2-6, 2-6 in the semi-finals.
In the shooting range, India continued its good show. Heena earned her first individual medal in the Asian Games as she got a bronze medal in the women’s 10m Air Pistol event.
Heena scored 219.2 in the final. Qian Wang of China won gold with a Games record score of 240.3, while South Korea’s Kim Minjung took the silver with a score of 237.6.
Manu Bhaker, the other Indian to reach the final, finished at a disappointing fifth position with a score of 176.2.
In squash, Saurav Ghosal, Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Joshna Chinappa registered convincing victories to assure India of a medal each as they entered the semi-finals.
Ghosal defeated compatriot Harinder Sandhu 3-1 (9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7). Joshna got the better of Joey-Chan Ho-ling of Hong Kong 3-1 (11-5, 12-10, 5-11, 12-10) in the late game to also assure herself of a medal. Dipika stormed past Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 11-8) to ensure a top-four berth as well.
But the celebratory mood of Indian fans was dampened when the Indian women’s kabaddi team suffered a historic loss to Iran in a hard fought final which saw the defending champions lose their crown after an eight-year reign.
The defending champions lost 24-27 in a nail-biting encounter as Iran celebrated its first ever gold medal at the Asiad.
For India, this was a devastating blow, specially after their men’s team was outplayed by Iran in Thursday’s semi-finals. This is the first time that India have failed to win gold in a major championship.
Later on Friday, Iran made a grand doubles as its men’s team got a 26-16 win over South Korea in the final. This is the first time the Asiad saw a team other than India win the gold medal.
The boxing competitions, which started on Friday, saw the Indian campaign get off to a mixed start. Gaurav Solanki was eliminated in the very first round of the men’s Flyweight (52kg) division when he was outpunched 5-0 by Japan’s Tanaka Ryomei.
Seasoned boxer Manoj Kumar brought the smiles back to the Indian fans with a 5-0 thrashing of Bhutan’s Sangay Wangdi in a Round-of-32 clash in the men’s Welterweight (69kg) category.
Meanwhile in badminton, women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy advanced to the Round-of-16, while men’s singles shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and H.S. Prannoy perished in the quarter-finals.
Ashwini and Sikki defeated Mei Kuan Chow and Meng Yean Lee of Malaysia (2-1) 21-17, 16-21, 21-19 in a marathon match of more than an hour, while Srikanth lost to Wing Ki Vincent Wong of Hong Kong 0-2 (21-23, 19-21) and Prannoy lost to Kantaphon Wangcharonen of Thailand 1-2 (12-21, 21-15, 15-21).
Defeat was also witnessed in archery, with the compound mixed archery team of Jyothi Surekha Vennam and Abhishek Verma losing 153-155 to Iran in the quarter-finals.
In hockey action, reigning champions India continued their winning streak with an 8-0 victory against Japan in their third Pool A match. India have taken their total goals scored in the tournament to a record 51 after winning 17-0 against Indonesia followed by 26-0 against Hong-Kong China in their first-two matches.
S.V. Sunil (7th minute), Dilpreet Singh (12th), Rupinder Pal Singh (17th, 38th), Mandeep Singh (32th, 57th), Akashdeep Singh (46th) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (47th) scored in India’s fine win.