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Struggling India chase elusive gold in Asian Games

other Updated: Sep 25, 2014 02:50 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
Hindustan Times
Asian Games

India's Asian Games campaign started with a bang, shooter Jitu Rai striking gold on the first day. And it fizzled out in no time.

Five days into the competition, the second largest nation in the fray has managed only minor medals to languish at 15th spot, with a gold and silver medal apiece and 10 bronze.

The shooters - among our top medal hopes - have struggled, complaining of fatigue due to a poor travel schedule. If the lack of medals was bad enough, fissures have been exposed with a teammate criticising another after a fourth place finish. Abhinav Bindra, India's lone individual Olympic champion, has had to settle for a double bronze in his last Asiad.

Squash player Saurav Ghosal wasted a match point in the final, settling for silver. Rower Dushyant Chauhan found the wind too strong for his tiring hands, coming third in light single sculls.

Two more gold medals would have lifted India to a more respectable eighth. Instead, it has faded away while China, South Korea and Japan blaze through the competition.

India's worst Asian Games showing was in 1990 in Beijing when they won a solitary gold. They were eighth in 2002 (Busan, South Korea) and 2006 (Doha, Qatar) and sixth in 2010 (Guangzhou, China).

There is still hope that India will win a few gold medals. On Thursday, eight shooting medals (four team, four individual) are up for grabs. Top rifle marksman Gagan Narang will be in action.

The boxers have made a promising start while wrestling, men's hockey and athletics also offer hope.

Kabaddi has been India's preserve since its debut in 1990. But we are missing many potential medal winners - Somdev Devvarman (two gold medals in 2010), Vijender Singh (injured) and Sushil Kumar.

It's early days, but it looks unlikely, that India will be able to breach their best Asiad medal showing (14 gold, 17 silver, 34 bronze) at Guangzhou.