On Sunday, India added another gold to their dismal looking medal tally, when wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt won his 65kg freestyle bout against Zalimkhan Yusupov of Tajikistan. That helped India jump to the eighth place in the Incheon Asian Games. The ninth day also brought good news from other disciplines like boxing and athletics, where Indians came up with heartwarming results. The most notable among them was Khushbir Kaur, who became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the 20km Race-Walk.
Yogeshwar’s was the first Asian Games gold for India since 1986 Seoul Games but his victory didn’t come on a platter. It was nearly a lost cause for him in the semifinal against strongly-built Chinese Yeerlanbieke Katai. Dutt trailed all the way and at one point, he was down 1-5, before making it 3-5. But the Chinese wrestler wouldn’t give in and he led the Indian 7-5. The alert Chinese knew that Dutt had been aiming to get a hold on his ankles and he didn’t allow that. With 2 minutes remaining, the Chinese looked like a clear winner. Suddenly Dutt got a grip on his opponent and floored him on the side for a 4-point throw in his favor and he then pinned the Chinese to advance into the gold medal match. Against Zalimkhan in the final, Dutt’s ability to dig into his reserve brought the victory and the gold medal. Dutt won a bronze in 2006 Doha Asian Games, bronze in 2012 London Olympics and gold in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last month. But India’s other wrestlers fared poorly on Friday. Satyawart Kadian lost to Kazakhstan’s Ibragimov Mamed 0-3 in men’s 97kg freestyle. Babita Kumari lost in women’s 55kg freestyle and Jyoti lost in women’s 75kg freestyle. While Satyawart could not match the tactical superiority of his opponent, Babita fought against 12-time World Champion and 3 times Olympic Champion Saori Yoshida of Japan in the semi-final and she was easily outclassed in the bronze medal match against Zhong Xuechun of China. The other women wrestler competing in the 75kg class, Jyoti was beaten by Burmaa Ochirbat of Mongolia in the quarterfinal itself.
In athletics, Khushbir Kaur won silver in women’s 20km race-walk in 1:33:07, two seconds behind China’s gold winner Lu Xiuzhi. With her feat, Khushbir became the first Indian woman to win a medal in race walking in Asian Games. The 21-year-old holder of the national record was running third till 18km mark but accelerated in the final two kilometres as the other Chinese Nie Jingjing slowed down. Indian athletes won three more bronze medals on Sunday, when MR Poovamma in women’s 400m, Rajiv Arokia in men’s 400m and Manju Bala in women’s hammer throw all finished third. In the prestigious 100m for men, Qatari sprinter; Femi Seun Ogunode set a new Asian record to win the gold in 9.93 seconds.
Indian boxers also advanced on Sunday, led by Olympic bronze-medalist Mary Kom. More medals would come India’s way as Mary Kom in 51kg; Sarita Devi in 60kg and Pooja Rani in 75kg entered the semi-finals with commanding victories. Mary Kom was brilliant on second successive day as she outpunched China’s Si Haijuan. Slow to start, Mary soon found her rhythm with decisive blows. But after two easy rounds, Mary was stunned in the third round by the Chinese, who blunted most of Mary’s punches. In the fourth and final round, however, Mary came back strongly and emerged as the winner to take on Vietnam’s Le Thi Bang in the semifinal. Sarita Devi had a tough bout with Mongolia’s Suvd Erdene Oyungerel but the Indian endured an energy-sapping duel to enter the semis. Her semifinal opponent will be Korea’s Jina Park. The third Indian boxer, Pooja Rani out-punched Chinese Taipei’s Dara Flora in her quarter-final bout taking full advantage of her rival’s poor defence. The Taipei boxer got completely exhausted against the Indian, who will now face Chinese Li Qian in semi-final. Meanwhile, Devendro Singh beat Lao PDR’s Lsdavongsy Bounphone in men’s light flyweight round of 16.
In tennis, Sania Mirza-Saketh Sai assured India of silver, when they entered the mixed double final by beating China’s Zheng Jie-Zhang Ze 6-1, 6-3. But Yuki Bhambri/Divij Sharan lost the men’s doubles semifinal against South Korea’s Hyeon Chung-Yong-Kyu Lim. In singles too, Bhambri lost to Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 2-6, 1-6. But another tennis silver is assured with Sanam Singh/Saketh Myneni reaching the final.
In other events where the Indians participated, men and women’s Kabaddi team won their matches and moved to the next rounds. Indian women defeated Bangladesh 29-18 while the men’s team defeated Bangladesh 30-15. India’s Yashaan Zubin Khambatta qualified for the Equestrian Jumping Individual Final Round but other Indians; Sehaj Virk and Ashray Butta were eliminated. Men’s volleyball team fought a tough battle against South Korea before losing 22-25, 25-27, 18-25. In canoeing and kayaking, Indian men and women paddlers reached six out of eleven finals. There were five teams of men and one of women in these events, in which finals are scheduled for Monday. India’s men and women played listless games in their handball matches. Indian men finished 14th after going down 25-32 to UAE while the women lost 26-44 to Uzbekistan. In table tennis, where much was expected, Indians came out with poor performance in quarter-finals. The men led by Sharath Kamal lost 0-3 to the Chinese team while the women’s team also lost by the same margin to Singapore. In the basketball quarterfinal, Indian women lost against Japan 37-70.