India in Asian Games


In 1951, India managed to get 15 Gold Medals, 16 Silver Medals and 20 Bronze Medals during the first Asian Games which was held in New Delhi, India. With a total of 51 Medals, India got the 2nd Rank in the first Asian Games and has continued to participate ever since.

From 1951 till 1978, Japan dominated the Asian Games with no country to seriously challenge them.

In 1974, when China firstly participated in the Asian Games, they too like India finished 2nd in their first Asian Games.

However, it was in 1982, which was the 9th instalment of Asian Games that also has the record of having the highest number of participating countries in Asian Games history, both China and Japan dominated equally at the Asian Games. Both the countries got a total of 153 medals but China emerged at the top because it won 61 Gold medals with respect to Japan that won 57 Gold medals. Since then, China has continued to dominate the medals table in every Asian Games. The 9th instalment of the Asian games was again held in New Delhi where India got a total of 57 medals, ranking at the 5th position.

Looking at the detailed history of India at the Asian Games and after doing a thorough investigation, it may not be that surprising to say the Boxing and Wrestling are the only two sports that have continued to gather Gold Medals for India since early times. In 1966, 1970 and 1982, India dominated the heavyweight boxing category with Hawa Singh and Kaur Singh winning Gold Medals for India and has continued this legacy in recent Asian Games too.

But, in athletics India now faces a much tougher challenge than they did some two decades ago. The presence of the Central Asian Republics and Oil Rich Countries like Bahrain, Qatar and UAE are now poaching athletes from African Nations to represent their adopted countries. Despite these difficulties athletics provided India with the maximum number of medals, 13 in all, at the recent Asian Games.

A remarkable effort has also been done by other sportsperson which is praiseworthy in recent times of the Asian Games, especially in 2014 when Promising 21-year-old Khushbir Kaur of Khalsa College Amritsar became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the 20kms walk. Anu Rani, a 22-year-old from Meerut, got a bronze medal in the Javelin throw, Manju Bala, a silver medal in hammer throw and Naveen Kumar bronze in the men’s 3,000 metres steeplechase.  Other talented sportsperson like Tintu Luka, Vikas Gowda, Seema Punia, Khushbir Kau and many others have shown their immersive dexterity regarding their respective sports which has made India, a respectable and competitive country in Asian Games.

Why India continue to Struggle?

India has always ranked within the top 10 nations in the medals table, except in 1990s Asian Games, where it won only 1 Gold Medal in Kabaddi, eventually ranking at the 12th position. Sadly, the best ever performance of India was at the first Asian Games, since then India’s performance continuously deteriorated but not worsened.

India always has ended up with a respectable amount of medals in almost every Asian Games. But it is not enough, when you have a county that has a population of more than 1.5 billion.

Despite having a Billion population and numerous technological advancements, India has never reached the potential of winning that amount of medals which it won in its first Asian Games back in 1951.

Everyone remarks that ‘Good Phase’ for India at Asian Games tournament has started with 2006 Asian Games at Doha, Qatar where India managed to win a total of 53 medals including 10 gold, 17 silver and 28 bronze eventually ending up at the 8th rank. In 2010, India bagged a total of 65 medals, most-ever won by India at the Asian Games and got 6th rank at the medals tally.

This result is not enough as India comes at 2nd after China regarding the most populated countries in Asia which is the paramount reason as why China continues to dominate at the Asian Games, So, why the same can’t be done for India at the Asian Games? Most of the experts say that it is due to the large presence of poverty in India but this is not sufficient because other countries with low levels of per-capita income consistently fare better than India in most of the Asian Games.

Here, the answer lies in these four words – National Sports Development Fund (NSDF).

 The NSDF was created in 1998 to mobilise resources from government and non-government organisations for promoting sports and sportspersons for achieving excellence, and to construct and maintain infrastructure as may be required for promotion of excellence in sports.

But NSDF, despite in their best intention, have eluded sports. This is further amalgamated by misallocation, dearth of clarity, poor service administration and an AWOL of a foundation for calibrating force of public donation and the worst part is that it WILL NOT change. The presence of Corruption, favouritism, apathy and bad management among sports governing bodies if not stopped, will eventually destroy the emerging talents of this nation as it has continue to do so.

How can India get better at Sports?

Following steps are the basics to be better –

  • Parents get convinced that sport is one of the possible options for their kids to make great careers and earn enough money to lead a comfortable life (even if they do not reach the highest level of performance).
  • The right system of coaches, academies, tournaments, and clubs identify the talent in the kids.
  • Kids start competing locally and slowly climb the ladders of competitions. In case some kids do not reach the higher level they still get opportunities to make a living out of their dedication to sports.
  • The champions who win medals in competitions and also give back to sports society by helping it grow and reach newer heights.
  • Sports followers and appreciators who follow sports regularly (not just once in a four year bursts) can attracts investments and sponsorships to those that are doing exceptionally well at young age.

Also, it should be kept in mind that building assemblage of excellence by sports is the way to go too. Fortunately, we have several places. Pullela Gopichand alone has built a place for badminton in Hyderabad. Haryana is known to have a band of excellence for boxing and wrestling. The Northeast has shown remarkable energy in sports, with the likes of Mary Kom and Dipa Karmakar. Kerela is big in boat racing and martial arts. a natural place to develop capabilities in canoeing and sports like Judo and Taekwondo. Mallakhamb is big in Maharashtra, and gymnastics is a natural extension for this.

Everybody knows all this but almost no one (not everyone) acts or focus. The time has come to foster all this information and telecast it into the minds of every youth that wishes to be a prolific and renowned personality in the field of sports.

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