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Buoyant India seek Asiad glory

india Updated: Oct 29, 2010 14:20 IST
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India hopes to translate a creditable show at the Commonwealth Games into a rich haul at the Asian Games, but officials have warned against getting carried away by their success in New Delhi.

India's sportspersons surprised even their most ardent supporters by returning with 38 golds at October's Commonwealth Games, far behind Australia's tally of 74, but good enough to send England (37) to third place.

It was India's best-ever placing, with 27 silver and 36 bronze medals taking them past the 100-medal mark, including first-ever gold medals in women's track and field and archery.

The Indians are under no illusion that the feat can be repeated at the Asian Games that open in the Chinese city of Guangzhou on November 12.

"Don't even think of it," shooting coach Sunny Thomas said when asked if his crack team will match the 14 Commonwealth golds it won on the New Delhi ranges.

"The Asian Games is a much tougher competition, and that goes for all sports. It will be the Chinese all the way."

India finished eighth in the medals tally at the previous Asian Games in Doha four years ago with their best-ever haul of 53 medals, including 10 golds.

The tally was not only overshadowed by China's 166 golds in a total of 316 medals, but second-placed South Korea won more golds (58) than India's entire medal haul put together.

The absence of top stars has made India's task a lot more tougher in Guangzhou.

Sushil Kumar, the world's top wrestler in the 66kg category, has withdrawn due to a shoulder injury after winning golds at both the Asian and world championships and the Commonwealth Games this year.

"The injury bothered me even before the Commonwealth Games, but I could not miss an event taking place in my own country," he said. "I will take a break to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers next year."

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will not defend their tennis doubles gold in China as they prepare for the season-ending world doubles championships in London with their respective partners.

Pistol marksman Jaspal Rana, who won three golds and a silver in Doha, has left competitive shooting to join politics.

India's absence will be felt the most in cricket that makes its debut at the Asian Games with the popular Twenty20 format.

The Indian cricket board declined to send either the men's or women's team to Guangzhou, saying they were busy with domestic tournaments and international commitments.

The Olympic Council of Asia had said that cricket was included in the Asian Games only after the region's big four -- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- promised to send their best teams.

"It is obviously sad and disappointing that India will not play cricket at the Asian Games," OCA secretary-general Randhir Singh said. "But we can't force anyone to play."

India's gold medal hopes in Guangzhou lie with Olympic shooting champion Abhinav Bindra and fellow rifle shooter Gagan Narang, who won four titles at the Commonwealth Games.

Chess, billiards and kabaddi are expected to add to the country's tally, as will world number two badminton star Saina Nehwal and the women's 4x400m relay squad, which won gold in Doha.