How India’s Women Won the Asian Games
The success stories of some of India’s female medallists at the 2018 Asian Games.
69 medals including 15 golds, 24 silvers and 30 bronze and India managed to pull off its best-ever showing at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. There were medallists in first-time events like bridge and kurash and at the other end of the spectrum, there was a women’s team in the hockey final after 20 long years. There was a 16-year-old gold medallist and also a 60-year-old champion. But what really stood out among the many success stories in the Indian camp were the path-breaking wins of some of the women in the Indian contingent.
Like Dutee Chand, whose Asian Games would have been a massive success even if she hadn't won silvers in the showcase 100 and 200m events. Four years back, after being selected to make her CWG and Asian Games debut, Dutee was dropped from both teams because the Indian athletics federation said a medical condition called hyperandrogenism generated high male hormones in her body and thus, it would not be fair for her to compete against fellow women. The trauma of not being allowed to compete or train was followed by the stigma of a condition not many understood was no fault of hers. Dutee though stood her ground, fought her case and came a comeback, finishing on the podium in two events at the very Games she wasn’t allowed to compete in four years back. Her 100m silver was in fact also India’s first medal in the event in 20 years.
There was also 16-year-old Harshita Tomar. India’s second-youngest medallist at the Asian Games, she won a bronze in sailing in a mixed event where the top five finishers, besides her, were all boys.
India’s youngest and newest sprint star Hima Das simply ran her way into the history books. She broke a 14-year-old national 400m record in the qualifying heats and then again topped it in the final as she won a silver. A 200m specialist, Hima had competed in the 400m event for the first time only this March. There was more from her though, she helped the mixed team bag a silver in the 4x400m relay and also ran a crucial leg to help India bag a fifth straight 4x400m women’s relay gold. Her total tally at the games was one gold and two silvers.
There’s also the amazing story of Swapna Barman. From a small town in North Bengal, nursing a severe toothache, competing with six toes on both her feet, Swapna waded her way through seven events to win India’s first-ever Asian Games gold medal in heptathlon.
Then there were the kurash stars who were made to even pay for their Asian Games kit themselves. Pincky Balhara’s village raised money to help her train for the Games and she delivered, winning a silver in kurash, a sport that made its debut in Indonesia. Also on the podium was Malaprabha Jadhav
These were the Games of many firsts for Indian women as well. Vinesh Phogat beat a field comprising world and Olympic medallists to become the first Indian woman to win an Asian Games gold. Rahi Sarnobat put behind a career-threatening injury to also become the first Indian woman shooter to win an individual gold at the Asian Games. And then there were the badminton stars. PV Sindhu became the first-ever Indian, male or female to reach an Asian Games final, winning a silver even as Saina Nehwal settled for a bronze.
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