India’s dominance on kabaddi mat continues
In the end, the result was a lot tighter than it should have been, but such trifles matter not. India are champions on the kabaddi mat and all is well in the world.
But for 28 minutes on Saturday, it looked like India’s reign was on shaky ground. Iran were running away with the contest and it took three consecutive raids from an inspired Ajay Thakur to change that around.
India can now add 2016 to their 2004 and 2007 triumphs. They have also won all seven gold medals on offer at the Asian Games.
Saturday’s win is also important for other reasons. After all, the kabaddi mat is the last sporting bastion where India still rule unequivocally.
Barring India’s loss to South Korea and Iran’s defeat to Poland, there were few surprises in the tournament. The World Cup did reiterate that Iran and South Korea still pose the greatest threat to India in the sport, except for Pakistan.
There were some breakout stars like England raider Temitope Adewalure, a policy advisor back in England, and Kenya defender James Obilo. England defender Tejash Depala and Australia’s Jasvir Singh also impressed.
But most teams stayed true to form and did exactly what they were expected to do before the World Cup. In their eagerness to give the event the air of a “World Cup” the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) invited teams from countries like Australia and USA, who did not even have a team a few months before the World Cup.
Both teams, along with Argentina, became something of whipping boys in the tournament.
One hopes that the exposure of the World Cup can spur the game’s progress back in countries like England, Argentina, Kenya, Thailand and Japan, which have some sort of infrastructure for the sport. But it remains to be seen whether Australia and USA will still have a team after their purpose of legitimising the World Cup’s name has been fulfilled.
India’s dominance in kabaddi is commendable but the sport needs more active participation from more countries before it can achieve what the IKF considers it’s biggest dream for kabaddi: the Olympics.