The Asian Games 2023 at Hangzhou will be remembered by Indians with great joy and pride for a long time to come. By yesterday (October 6) the country had already won a record 95 medals, including 22 gold, 34 silver and 39 bronze medals, its best-ever performance in the tournament. With this, India has surpassed its previous best of 70 medals at the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta. With Indians hopeful of winning medals in some more events at Hangzhou, the country seems set to reap a century of medals for the first time at an international event of this stature.
With 95 medals already in its kitty, India is placed fourth in the overall medal tally behind China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. The 655-strong Indian contingent taking part in this edition of Asiad had set itself the target of securing a century of medals, a goal they are likely to achieve soon. The target is important not just from a numerical point of view, it is actually a reflection of India’s growing confidence in the international sporting arena. India is now seen as a rising sporting power in Asia.
One of the best performances by India came yesterday in Men’s hockey with the team defeating Japan 5-1 to clinch a historic gold. With this, the team also qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The day also saw India winning medals in bridge, badminton and wrestling among other events. But the hockey win was special. This not only marked India’s return to the top of the Asian Games podium in the event after nine years, the margin of victory is bound to serve as a morale booster for the team as it prepares for the Paris Olympics.
India played seven games and won all of them while scoring 68 goals. It conceded only nine. The team’s 10-2 hammering of Pakistan was historic. The South Koreans tested India’s mettle but the latter got the better of their rivals, winning by a comprehensive margin. Their victory against Japan was equally convincing.
The Indian hockey team owes a lot to the government of Odisha, especially Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the turnaround in its fortunes. The five-time Chief Minister, whose love for the game is well known, offered the national men and women hockey teams the sponsorship of his government at a critical juncture when the sport was desperately looking for financial support. Thanks to his generosity and foresight, both men and women teams started doing well and scripted history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While the men’s team won a bronze medal, ending a medal drought of 41 long years in hockey, the women’s team entered the semi-finals for the first time in history.
The men’s hockey team has made India proud once more by winning the gold at Hangzhou. One hopes the team continues to maintain its winning streak and comes up with a medal at the Paris Olympics as well.