India is slowly but steadily making strides in the field of sports. At the just-concluded Asian Games in Jakarta, Indian athletes notched up the best ever tally of medals. Sixty-nine medals, including 15 golds, is an improvement over the 2010 haul of 65. The remarkable thing was the youthful profile of the Indian contingent, with nearly 200 of the total 572 athletes below the age of 24. Haryana stood out for its sterling contribution, with the young competitors from the State accounting for 18 medals, among them five golds. Wrestling brought three medals, two gold and one broze.
Bajrang Punia won gold in 65 kg freestayle and Vinesh Phogat in the women’s freestyle 50 kg category. However, there was disappointment in kabaddi despite India having dominated the sport since its introduction at the 1990 Asiad. Both men and women’s teams came up short, failing to win gold, though the women managed a silver while men had to content themselves with a bronze. Another sport where India failed miserably was hockey, with the women losing to Japan in the final and the men settling for the third-place bronze. In athletics, India did well to pick up 17 medals with the javelin- throw gold medalist Neeraj Chopra emerging as the young new face of the Indian sport.
India notched up 7 golds, ten silvers and two bronze medals in athletics. Overall, the good showing indicates a welcome awareness among the sporting authorities to improve the infrastructure and to nurture talent without playing favourties or stealing funds. It is undeniable that the availability of competitive sport on 24×7 television channels has advanced awareness and commitment of the players to train hard for the best. Financial grants from state and central governments and from private and public sector corporations to harness talent ahead of the 2020 Olympics can further improve India’s performance.