The Asian Games in Hangzhou will be remembered by India not just for the record number of medals its contingent brought from the showpiece but also for the athletes who explored the limits of their endurance to return home successful in disciplines which were hitherto out of their preserve. Here are some of the athletes who covered the nation, and themselves, in glory by winning the first-ever medals in their disciplines or reclaiming glory after several decades.
Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase): A record-breaking Sable became the first Indian man to win a gold medal in 3000m steeplechase at the Games.
The 29-year-old national record holder, who earned India its first gold medal in athletics, completed the race in 8:19.50 seconds. Sable also rewrote the previous Games record of 8:22.79 on way to the top podium finish.
Parul Chaudhary (5000m): Parul pulled off a heist for a sensational women’s 5000m gold and stamped her class to become the first Indian woman to win an Asian Games gold in 5000m race, adding to the 3000m steeplechase silver that she had won earlier.
The 28-year-old was behind Japan’s Ririka Hironaka in the closing stage but produced a stunning dash in the final 40 metres to claim the yellow metal with a timing of 15:14.75.
Annu Rani (Javelin): The athlete conjured up her season-best performance to claim the top prize in women’s javelin throw and become the first Indian woman to win an Asian Games gold in javelin throw with an effort of 62.92m. This was her second Asian Games medal as she had won a bronze in the 2014 edition.
HS Prannoy, and the pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, won India’s first singles and men’s doubles medals after 41 years. It was Syed Modi who won a bronze in 1982, while the doubles pair of Leroy D’sa and Pradeep Gandhe won a bronze in 1982.
Satwik-Chirag gold was a first for India at the Asian Games. For the men’s team, the silver was a first since 1986 Seoul.
Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee’s giant-slaying act clinched a historic bronze medal after the Indian duo lost the closely-fought women’s doubles semifinal to North Korea.
The medal came after the Indian duo beat the Chinese pair of Meng Chen and Yidi Wang in the quarterfinals. In 2018, India made history by picking up an unprecedented men’s team and mixed doubles bronze.
The team of Manisha Keer, Rajeshwari Kumari and Preeti Rajak combined to win India’s first-ever Asian Games medal in women’s skeet — a silver.
Anantjeet Singh Naruka too etched his name in the annals of Indian sports history by clinching the country’s first ever silver medal in men’s skeet individual event.
Young Sift Kaur Samra also stole the show with a gold medal in the women’s 50m rifle 3 position event — a first for India — with a Final World Record score to boot.
India’s Arjun Singh and Sunil Singh Salam clinched a historic bronze medal in men’s canoe double 1000m event to bag the country’s second medal ever in the event in the Asian Games. In the 1994 Hiroshima edition of the Games, India had bagged a bronze in the same event through Siji Sadanandan and Johnny Rommel.
13-year wait ended in archery when the Indian men’s and women’s recurve teams surpassed expectations to clinch a silver and bronze respectively, their first medals since the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
The women’s recurve team of Ankita Bhakat, Simranjeet Kaur and Bhajan Kaur defied odds to clinch a bronze medal beating Vietnam.
The women’s team’s splendid show then rubbed off on their male counterparts as the triumvirate of Atanu Das, Tushar Shelke, and Dhiraj Bommadevara too returned with a silver medal, losing to South Korea in the final.
The quartet of Sudipti Hajela, Divyakriti Singh, Vipul Hriday Chheda and Anush Agarwall won India’s first-ever dressage team gold in Asian Games. It was India’s first equestrian yellow metal in 41 years. In the 1982 edition in New Delhi, the Indian team had grabbed three gold medals.
Anush Agarwalla won India’s first-ever individual medal, a bronze, in the dressage competition at the Games.
Sailor Vishnu Sarvanan’s bronze was India first-ever medal in the men’s dinghy ILCA-7 event at the Games.
India clinched their first-ever medal in women’s sepaktakraw at the Games with the regu team winning a bronze.
Olympian Aditi Ashok won a silver and became the first Indian woman to claim a medal in golf.
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