Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Asian Games beckons India after CWG success

New Delhi: What we have witnessed in the last fortnight or so is nothing but spectacular. The negativity surrounding the start of the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi was transformed into a positive tide by the end of it. Athletes with their sheer grit and determination tried to ensure that the mega event would be remembered for all the right reasons.
Indian players, with the home support behind them, raised the level of their game and made the impossible possible. No one had believed before the start of the Games that India would finish with 38 gold and cross the century mark in terms of the total number of medals.
Right from the badminton court, where Indian shuttlers showed their prowess against their much-fancied opponents, the Indian Tricolour was only behind Australia. But it was shooting where the country fetched most of its medals – 30, including 14 gold. In the boxing arena, Indian pugilists punched their way through to success but 12 medals in athletics was something that turned a lot of heads towards India.
After making India proud in the CWG, these players will now like to transform this success into maximum podium finishes in the next month’s Asian Games that will begin from November 12 in Guangzhou, China. And the record that India has in the quadrennial Asian event clearly shows that they will have to come out of their skin to culminate the CWG success into something substantial in China.
India can take a cue from the Asian sporting powerhouse China, which has done remarkably well not only in Asia but at the biggest sporting stage, the Olympics. And other than China, India will have to counter a stiff challenge presented by other major South Asian nations like Japan and South Korea, who are not part of the Commonwealth nations.
In their quest to bring laurels in Asian Games, India's 'golden' hopes will once again rest on its shooting contingent that will have in its ranks Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, 'gold fingers' Gagan Narang and Samaresh Jung, Omkar Singh and Heena Sidhu among others.
Expectations are also high from wrestlers and boxers who had shone at the CWG at home. While the grapplers fetched 10 golds, the boxers, though a little disappointing, did come up with three golds. Although word champion wrestler Sushil Kumar, Alka Tomar and Anita’s absence will hurt India’s chances, Anil Kumar, Sanjay Kumar and Geeta will be no pushovers for their opponents.
Boxer Vijender Singh will be out to prove his critics wrong after his semifinal loss in Delhi. Since Akhil will not be a part of the Indian squad to China, Vijender will carry India's flag along with 'chhota Tyson' Suranjoy, Paramjeet Samota and others.
When it comes to Badminton, the one name that crops up in everyone's mind is CWG gold medallist and world no. 3 Saina Nehwal. But the path will be extremely tough for the 20-year-old, keeping in mind the dominance of the Chinese and the Koreans on the badminton court. The story will remain the same for other Indian shuttlers – P Kashyap, Aditi Mutatkar, doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V Diju and women's duo of Jwala and Ashwini Ponappa – as their competitors here will bring a bigger challenge than what they faced in the Delhi event.
Indian archers' performance in the CWG has been exemplary. The experienced Rahul Banerjee and and the 17-year-old girl from Ranchi Deepika Kumari provided two golds in the individual category. Besides these two, seasoned Dola Banerjee and Bombayala Devi also did a respectable job. The country will hope that these archers will transform the same success in the dragon land.
Just like badminton, the job in front of Indian paddlers – Achanta Sharath Kamal, Subhojit Roy, Mouma Das, Poulami Ghatak and others - is also extremely arduous, as China, Japan and South Korea will join forces with Malaysia and Singapore to give India a tougher time.
A lot was not expected from the Indian contingent before the start of the CWG, but proving the best of the critics wrong, they won hearts of Indian public with their bravado on the field. But one thing that won't be with them in China is support in the stadia that spurred them on here in the CWG.
However, the heart of millions will beat for them here in India while they take on the best of the best Asians in China and that should egg them on to remain at the peaks they set for themselves in the CWG.

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