India’s most certain gold medal came at the very end, but the men’s kabaddi final was hardly a cakewalk. The team had to use all of its skill and experience to overcome a battling Iran 27-25 to clinch its seventh gold in a row in the event.
As the curtains came down on India’s Asian Games showing on Friday, the Indian women’s kabaddi team doubled the joy with a more convincing win over their opponents, Iran again, to retain their gold medal. But Incheon indicated that kabaddi may no longer be India’s preserve.
The double success on the penultimate day of the Games meant India finished eighth overall. The 11 gold medals are three less than in Guangzhou, China, four years ago — demonstrating again how India need to improve by leaps and bounds if they are to compete with the top teams. The top four — China, South Korea, Japan and Kazakhstan — are way ahead but it is a sobering thought that even Iran, Thailand and North Korea are better.
A men’s hockey gold after 16 years — that too with a victory over Pakistan — may count as the most satisfying moment for many. Yogeshwar Dutt’s wrestling gold, Mary Kom’s triumph in the ring and the gold medals won by discus thrower Seema Punia and shooter Jitu Rai all stand out.
So does boxer L Sarita Devi’s emotional protest against her defeat. The controversy tapered off somewhat on Friday with Sarita apologising for her behaviour on the podium. But she is set to be back in Korea next month for the world championships, and hopes the scoring will be fairer.