It turned out to be a grand opening day for India at Asian Games with India winning 2 medals and getting assured of 2 more medals as well. Jitu Rai was the architect of India’s gold rush in shooting while the other medal also came from India’s most consistent sport, shooting, through Shweta Chaudhry. There was an excellent performance in Badminton , a few near-misses and a few more whose hopes were dashed. Let’s have a look at how India fared overall on Day 1 of the 2014 Asian Games.
Shooting – The biggest hope on Day 1, Jitu Rai continued to be consistent. The 27-year-old Lucknow resident had arrived in Incheon, South Korea in sensational form. Jitu has set an unprecedented record of winning 5 international shooting medals in a single calendar year and this kind of consistency in a sport like shooting is really commendable.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist who had also secured an Olympic quota place had plummeted to the sixth place in the men’s 50m pistol final but he roared back into form when it mattered the most. In a nerve-wracking final he was tied with Hoang Phuong Nguyen of Vietnam for the first place but a brilliant shoot off performance saw him edge ahead. Rai accumulated 186.2 points while Phuong ended up with 183.4.
Shweta Chaudhury Shows the Way
Faridabad shooter Shweta Chaudhry showed how it should be done by winning a medal despite her gun not being delivered to her by Korean Customs Officials. An excellent example for her compatriots who would have genuine reasons to complain because of issues like delayed travel plans, visa issues as well as late clearance from the Government.
Coming back to Shweta, she opened India’s medal account in the morning with a bronze in the 10m air pistol event at the Ongnyeon International Shooting Range. A calm Shweta ended up fourth in the qualifying round with a score of 383 despite having to shoot with her spare weapon. She went on to shoot a total of 176.4 in the final to take the bronze after climbing up from the sixth place.
But perhaps what stood out was the ordeal Shweta had to go through before her event. The Korean customs denied her an opportunity to shoot with her regular weapon and the brave girl had to face the challenge with a spare one.
‘’After three days of talking with the Korean customs people my weapon was delivered to me at 8am today but my event started at the same time, so I could not use it. I decided to fire with the spare weapon,” Shweta said.
Assurance of medals
Squash – It was a historic day in squash as India was assured of a first-ever medal in women’s singles squash after the country’s top two players Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa set up a showdown in the quarter-finals. The top seed in men’s singles, Saurav Ghosal too kept alive his medal hopes as he entered the quarterfinals.
Squash has been on the upward swing in the country ever since the two girls paired up to deliver India a first ever women’s doubles gold at the Commonwealth Games. The assurance of more medals only gives a further impetus to the sport in the country.
Badminton – There was more reason to celebrate as India was assured of ending its long and agonizing 28-year-wait for a badminton medal at the Asian Games. It didn’t come easily though and India had to fight tooth and nail to secure that one medal, edging past Thailand 3-2 in the women’s team event quarter-finals.
After her two star shuttlers Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu delivered wins in the women’s singles and led 2-0 in the competition, India lost the next two rubbers. PV Sindhu was asked to take up doubles duty and she teamed up with seasoned doubles campaigner Ashwini Ponnappa to anchor India into the semi-finals. Coach Gopichand has often faced flak for our doubles performances and likewise he should get credit for planning today’s win. As for PV Sindhu, this was one more feather in her cap as she was able to depict her flexibility and stamina to help get India a medal.
The men’s team couldn’t recreate the magic of the women’s team and surrendered 0-3 to the home crowd as much as the well prepared hosts South Korea.
Judo – Judoka Kalpana Devi Thoudam had a brush with the bronze medal but it was short-lived as she lost her bronze medal match. The 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist lost her bronze medal (repechage) bout to Kazakhstan’s Lenariya Mingazova in the 52 kg category.
After the high of the Commonwealth Games, it was quite a lacklustre performance from the judokas as none of the others could make any impression. Navjot Chana lost his bout in the 60kg Men’s Round of 16 while Sushila Devi Likmabam’s campaign ended as she lost in the first round repechage.
The Other Indian news from Incheon
Tennis – It was smooth sailing for the Indian girls in tennis as they thumped Oman 3-0 to open their account in the team event.
Rowing – There was good news in rowing as Dushyant Chauhan as well as the men’s doubles team reached the final of the Lightweight Men’s Sculls.
Volleyball – There were mixed fortunes in volleyball as the men’s team won their group match against Hong Kong but there wasn’t any such luck for the women’s team. The men’s team posted a 3-1 victory while the women surrendered meekly 0-3 to the hosts South Korea.
Weightlifting – But the weightlifters brought a pall of gloom as none could produce the glory of the Commonwealth Games. Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sukhen Dey finished 5th in Men’s 56kg. Amongst the women lifters, Mirabai Chanu and Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu ended 9th and 10th respectively in the 48kg event.
Wushu – In Wushu, Narender Grewal made it to the men’s sanda – 60kg category quarter-finals after beating Mangal Prasad Tharu of Nepal. Also flying the tricolour high was Sanathoi Devi Yumnam who beat Mubarak Kamalova of Uzbekistan in women’s 52kg Sanda to reach the quarter-finals.
Medal Rush – 1 Gold medal, 1 bronze medal and assured medals in Badminton and Squash
News of The Day – Jitu Rai’s continued brilliance helps India’s get its first Gold Medal of the Games.
Comeback of The Day – Jitu came from behind to win but it was Shweta Chaudhury who put the distraction of working with a spare pistol to win India’s first medal at the Asian Games.