The 13th day proved lucky for India at Incheon. With two golds fetched on the same day, India bounced back into top-10 in medal standing yet again. As the eagerly awaited hockey final with Pakistan in the evening was still going on, Indian women’s 4 x 400 relay team won the gold for India. Not only that; the girls also set a new Asian Games record as the Indian quartet clocked 3:28.68 minutes to break India’s own record set in the 2010 Guangzhou Games. Around the same time, India and Pakistan were locked in an intriguing battle of hockey superiority in Asia. The match ended 1-1 after regulation time and helped by a great goalkeeping by Sreejesh, India won its second gold of the day.
Indian women successfully defended the 4x400m relay gold they won at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, when they finished on top at Incheon as well on Thursday. The quartet of Priyanka Pawar, Tintu Lukka, Mandeep Kaur and M Poovamma Raju represented India and apart from Mandeep Kaur, there was no one, who was the part of the 2010 team. Priyanka set the pace and Tintu was the next to receive the baton. The third leg was done by Mandeep and after that Poovamma finished in style as the team took the gold in the Asian Games’ record time of 3:28.68 minutes, set by the 2010 quartet. The silver was won by the Japanese team of Aoyama Seika, Matsumoto Nanako, Ichikawa Kana and Chiba Asami, while China took the bronze.
On Wednesday, Mary Kom’s final boxing bout was the most awaited event for the Indians. On Thursday, it was the gold medal match in men’s hockey, where India locked horns with Pakistan. It was for the second time in one week that India and Pakistan were playing each other but Thursday’s final was far more crucial than the league match that India lost 1-2 to Pakistan earlier. Amid the charged atmosphere, Pakistan took an early third minute lead with a counter-attack opportunity. After a superb run from the right flank, Rizwan Muhammad sounded the board from the top of the circle with Sreejesh having no chance. After the 1-0 lead Pakistan tried to put India under pressure, but no more goals could be scored in a fast-paced game in the first quarter. Though Sunil missed a great chance to level in the final minute but his connect to the cross went over the bar. Pakistan led 1-0 at the end of the first 15 minutes. India came close to equalizing in the 23rd minute but Pakistani defence foiled the attempt. Soon afterwards, India got a penalty corner but a brilliant save from Pakistan goalkeeper averted the danger for them. With 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Kothajit Singh got a nice deflection from a sizzling hit from the right to make the halftime score as 1-1. India got a big opportunity in the 35th minute from a spectacular run by Sunil and Dharamvir made no mistake in sending a perfect cross at the goalmouth but Sunil slipped and couldn’t tap in. Then Pakistan also got a penalty corner in 37th minute but Sreejesh denied Muhammad Imran with a brilliant save. With 7 minutes remaining in third quarter, Ramandeep hit a fierce reverse hit but the Pakistan goalkeeper thwarted the attempt. In the fourth quarter, both teams tried to score but failed. With 5 minutes remaining in the match, India won a penalty corner but it proved to be a wasted opportunity. With the match ending 1-1 in regulation time, the decision rested on the penalty shoot-outs. India began as Gurwinder Chandi put India ahead 1-0. On Pakistan’s turn, Haseem Abdul Khan’s shot was saved by Sreejesh and next when Rupinder Pal scored for India it was 2-0 in India’s favor. Waqas made it 2-1 though Sreejesh very nearly saved it. India’s third attempt from Manpreet was turned down but India kept the 2-1 lead. For Pakistan, Umar Bhutta missed and India scored 4th and 5th goals to win the gold medal. India’s last gold medal at the Asian Games was in 1998 at Bangkok. With this win, they enter Rio Olympics without a problem.
Though the 4×400 women’s team got the gold, other athletes came up with patchy performances. OP Jaisha finished fourth in women’s 8000m and Preeja Sreedharan finished 8th. RK Pal finished 5th despite his personal best timing in men’s 10000m and Suresh Kumar finished sixth. Inderjeet Singh got the bronze in men’s shot put with 19.63m but Om Prakash Singh Karhana finished ninth. Arpinder Singh finished fifth in men’s triple jump and Renjith Maheswary finished ninth. Sahana Kumari was eighth in women’s high jump.
Boxer Vikas Krishan won the bronze after his loss to Kazakhstan’s Zhanibek Alimkhanuly in middleweight semifinal. In superheavyweight class, Satish Kumar also settled for the bronze after losing to Uzbekistan’s Ivan Dychko in semifinal. The good news is that Sarita Devi has finally accepted her bronze medal following a hearing between Olympic Council of Asia and India’s officials in Incheon. She had earlier refused to wear the bronze around her neck during the medal ceremony on Wednesday.
Indian men and women’s challenge in Taekwondo continued with two young women still remaining in medal contention. Shaloo Raikwar (under 73 kg) and Maria Regi (over 73 kg) will contest the women’s quarterfinals and victories will take them to a medal. However, other contestents are already out from this sports. Saurav lost to Afghanistan’s Roman Ahmed Abasi in men’s 63kg quarterfinal and Rekha went down in 62kg quarterfinal to Chia Chia Chuang of Chinese Taipei.
In kabaddi, both men and women’s team entered the finals.
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