Day 8 at Incheon proved to be lucky for India. It was good beginning to the weekend with gold in archery and towards evening, they got a gold in squash as well. India’s women lost to Malaysia in squash and had to remain content with silver. Compared to their performance all week, the day proved to be the most fruitful. India’s total medal tally on Friday night stood at 28 medals but more importantly they have 3 gold medals now.
In the early morning at the Asian Games shooting range, India began with a setback in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions event. In the team event, India’s team of Chain Singh, Sanjeev Rajput and Gagan Narang finished 4th and lost the bronze. In the individual event, Gagan Narang disappointed once again and so did Sanjeev Rajput. Only Chain Singh could move to the finals. Later Singh won another bronze for India in his chosen category.
The archery action also began in the early morning and the Women’s Compound Team of Trisha Deb, Purvasha Shende, Jyothi Surekha Vennam defeated Iran to win 8th day’s first bronze medal for India just as Indians were coming out of their beds on Saturday at home. For those interested in past records, Trisha Deb also won the Gold Target award of the World Archery Federation’s in 2013. About an hour later, India won their first-ever gold in archery, when the men’s compound team of Abhisek Verma, Sandeep Kumar and Rajat Chauhan beat hosts South Korea 227-225 in the final. It was India’s second gold medal at Incheon after Jitu Rai won the first on the opening day. The Indians led South Korea all the way from start and kept their poise to win the event. Later, in the gold medal match in individual event of this category, Abhishek Verma lost to Iran’s Esmaeil Ebadi to settle for silver. Later in the day, Trisha Deb added another bronze to India’s tally, when she beat Taipei’s Huang I Jou 138-134 in women’s compound individual archery event.
On Friday, India’s tennis players assured the nation of 4 bronzes. Yuki Bhambri defeated Danai Udamchoke of Thailand 6-3, 6-2 to enter semifinals and he will at least get a bronze. If not the silver, at least three more bronze medals could come India’s way in men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. In the men’s doubles, Sanam Singh/Saketh Myneni beat Taipei’s Chien/Hsien 6-2, 7-6 to reach semifinals; in women’s doubles, Sania Mirza/Prarthana Thombare beat Nicha/Peangtarn of Thailand 6-1, 7-6 to reach last four and in the mixed doubles, Sania Mirza-Saketh Myneni beat Korea’s Nalae Han-Cheongeui Kim 6-3, 7-6 to also enter the semifinals. The only exception was Sanam Singh, who lost his singles match 6-7, 4-6 to Lu Yen Hsun of Taipei in the quarterfinal.
Another big moment for India came when their men’s squash team won the third gold medal for the country. The Indian team of Saurav Ghosal and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu beat the Malaysian team 2-0 in the final to win the first ever squash gold for India. In the first match, Sandhu defeated Mohamad Iskandar while Saurav Ghosal made it to a decisive 2-0 by beating Ong Beng Hee 6-11, 11-7, 11-6, 12-14, 11-9 in a tough encounter. But women’s team had a tough opposition in Malaysia, to whom they lost 0-2 and had to remain content with a silver.
In hockey, India beat China 2-0 in their last Pool B match and reached the semifinals. The first goal was scored by Raghunath, when he converted a penalty corner and then Lakra made it 2-0 as the game ended. After their loss to Pakistan, yesterday, India has bounced back into contention.
In wrestling, Vinesh Phogat and Geetika Jakhar brought two bronzes to India despite losing their semifinal bouts. Phogat defeated Mongolia’s Narangerel Erdenesukh in women’s freestyle 48kg while Geetika won against Vietnam’s Hien Ly in 63kg freestyle. Other Indian wrestlers suffered setbacks. In Men’s 57kg freestyle Pre-Quarters, Amit Kumar lost to Fumitaka Morishita of Japan and Parveen Rana lost his bout in 70 kg freestyle to go out of contention.
In boxing’s most awaited match India’s Mary Kom fought against Korea’s Yeji Kim in the round-of-16 (48-51 kg). The entire boxing arena was full to watch the Indian star and support the local boxer Kim. The 31-year old Mary finally won on points against the Korean, who had the height advantage and was younger to Mary by 9 years. In 69-75kg, Pooja Rani beat Erdenesoyol of Mongolia to enter quarterfinals and in the 57-60kg, Sarita Devi also entered the quarters after defeating North Korea’s Chungson. In men’s 52kg flyweight class, Gaurav Bidhuri defeated Prem Chaudhary of Nepal to make it to the quarterfinals.
In athletics too, India dished out good performance on Friday by winning a silver and a bronze. In 3000m steeple chase, India’s Lalita Babar, who had won the bronze, was later upgraded to silver as second-placed Ruth Jebet was disqualified and in the same race, Sudha Singh, who was fourth ended with bronze. In men’s 400m, Arokia Rajiv qualified for the final and two Indian women Mandeep Kaur and Poovamma Raju also reached the finals of 400m. However, there was disappointment for Preeja Sreedharan in 10000m as she finished 7th and Chandrodaya Singh too went out of medal contention in Hammer Throw final. Shradha Narayana finished 5th in women’s 100m heats and failed to qualify.