Asian Games: Neha Thakur, Eabad Ali rise in high seas
Neha Thakur took silver in the girls’ dinghy ILCA4 event while Eabad Ali won a bronze in the men's windsurfer RS:X category.
Neha Thakur bagged a silver medal in the girls’ dinghy ILCA4 (International Laser Category Association) event while armyman Eabad Ali bagged a bronze in the men's windsurfer RS:X category as India kickstarted their sailing campaign on a high at the ongoing Asian Games here.
The 17-year-old, competing in her first Asiad, used the windy conditions at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre -- over 150 kilometres from Hangzhou -- to her advantage to open the day's medal count for India. The scenic venue is located near the Songlan mountain resort where the conditions are ideal in terms of sea expanse, wind direction, and speed. The place was developed especially for the Asian Games.
Born to a family of farmers, Thakur finished with a total of 32 points in the eight-woman final but the net score of 27 earned her a second spot behind Thailand's Noppassorn Khunboonjan of Thailand who finished with 16 points. Singapore's Kiera Marie Carlyle took the third spot with a net tally of 28.
In sailing, the competitor's worst score from all races is deducted from total points to arrive at the net score. The sailor with the lowest net tally wins. The girl's dinghy ILC4 event consisted of 11 races with Thakur's fifth race being the worst. The five points earned in that race were subtracted from the total points (32) to determine the net score.
In ILC4, all sailboats are just a little over 13 feet and 10 inches long and carry only one sail. Maintaining a low bodyweight is key to gain speed in the high seas.
Thakur was placed second after the first 10 races of the series and slipped to fourth spot in her final race, just about managing to hold on to her overall second position in the final standings.
“It feels great to win a medal for your country and to fulfill your dream. The medal is not for me alone but a lot of people have contributed to make it possible. I have endured a lot of hardships, so this medal is a culmination of them all. I will try for gold next time,” said Thakur, who hails from Amaltaj village in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh.
After having dabbled in swimming in her younger years, Thakur was spotted by coaches of the National Sailing School in Bhopal who took her under their wings. Her coach Narendra Singh Rajput said she has all the qualities to become a world-class sailor.
“She is a fine sailor. She is disciplined, determined, and dedicated. She has worked very hard to reach this position,” he said.
Thakur hit the headlines last March too when she won a bronze medal in the Asian Sailing Championship in Abu Dhabi. The medal had helped her qualify for the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Hours later, Eabad Ali won a bronze in the men’s windsurfer RS:X category after collecting 52 net points from 14 races. South Korea’s Cho Wonwoo won the gold after netting 13 points, while Thailand’s Natthaphong Phonoppharat was next with had 29 points.
Ali said that he was put under pressure in the 14th and final race after failing to finish his three earlier races.
“I had no option but to do well in this race. I had to get top points, there was no other option for me but to do well,” he said. finished second in the final race and secured the bronze.
KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar, bronze medallists from the 2018 Asian Games, missed the podium in the men's skiff 49er to finish fifth in the NBX Sailing Centre Area.
The duo was in fourth place after Monday’s races -- a sailing event is typically spread over two days -- but a good show in Race 13 where they finished second pushed them to the third place.
Ganapathy and Thakkar, however, failed to keep up the pace in the final race where a fifth-place saw them finish fifth overall in the final standings with a net points count of 48. China (42 points), Oman (46), and Hong Kong (47) took the podium spots in the event
Meanwhile, the mixed team pair of Siddeshwar Indar Doiphode and Ramya Saravanan finished fourth out of five teams multihull Nacra 17 event, accumulating 45 net points from the 14-race series.
Harshita Tomar-Shital Verma, in women’s skiff 49erFX, also finished just outside the podium spots after raking in 47 net points from 14 races.
Ishwariya Ganesh’s 44 net points from a series of 14 races placed her at the bottom of the pile in women's windsurfer RS:X. Only four sailors competed in the category.