Free Press Journal

Asian Games 2018! From 1951 to 2018, the highs and lows of India’s journey at the Asian Games


photo credit: IOA

The countdown for Asian Games 2018 has started and entire world is set to witness the thrilling performance of athletes from all over Asian countries. The sporting event will start from August 18 and will be hosted by Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang. About 10,000 athletes from 45 countries are going to compete in 58 sports.

From India, 572 athletes are set to participate in 18 different sports. Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has been selected as Indian contingent’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony which will be held at Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in Jakarta.

India has a prominent place in the history of Asian Games. The debut Asian Games were hosted by India in the year 1951. After that, India was the host of Asian Games in 1982. India is one of the seven countries who have taken part in every edition of Asian Games. Other six countries are Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand.

Although only Japan and China have emerged as the top-placed team in various Asian Games tournament, India has given noteworthy performance in every edition of the Asian Games, winning at least one gold every time. Except for Asian Games 1990, India has always ranked within the top 10 nations in the medals table.

In the first Asian Games conducted at New Delhi, India won a total of 51 medals including 15 gold, 16 silver and 20 bronze. This was the best-ever performance of Indian contingent at Asian Games as India bagged 2nd spot in the medals table, behind Japan. The highest number of gold medals (15) were won by India in this edition of the Asian Games.

In the 1954 Asian Games held at Manila in Philippines, India’s performance deteriorated as they could claim only 13 medals on their side. These included 4 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze. This scenario also followed in the following Asian Games in 1958 held at Japanese capital Tokyo, where India managed to win only 14 medals in total. However, the situation changed in 1964 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, and India earned a total of 52 medals including 12 gold, 13 silver and 27 bronze bagging 3rd spot in the points table.

In the following two Asian Games tournament in 1966 and 1970, both of which were conducted in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, India bagged 5th rank. India bagged 21 and 25 medals in 1966 and 1970 Asian Games. Fate did not favour India in the next two Asian Games too and India could manage to win only 28 medals each in 1974 Asian Games in Tehran and 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand. Till 1978, Japan was the top ranked country in every Asian Games. However, the situation changed from 1982 Asian Games, and China surpassed Japan in bagging top spot in Asian Games tournaments.

Things changed for India in 1982 Asian Games which was hosted by India. India bagged 5th rank with total medal’s tally of 57, which was the highest number of medals clinched by India in Asian Games till that time. In the following Asian Games in 1986 hosted by South Korea in Seoul, India again bagged 5th rank but the medal’s tally decreased to 37.

India’s performance further deteriorated in the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, where India managed its worst ever spot of 11 in the medal’s table. Indian contingent managed to win only 23 medals, including just 1 gold, 8 silver and 14 bronze. The bad phase of Indian performance at Asian Games continued in the following three Asian Games tournament in 1994, 1998 and 2002, which were held at Hiroshima (Japan), Bangkok (Thailand) and Busan (South Korea). India managed to win 22, 35 and 35 medals in 1994, 1998 and 2002 Asian Games respectively.

The situation totally changed for India from 2006 Asian Games. The good phase for India at Asian Games tournament started with 2006 Asian Games at Doha, Qatar. India managed to win a total of 53 medals including 10 gold, 17 silver and 28 bronze. India was placed at the 8th rank. Thereafter, in the Asian Games 2010 at Guangzhou, China, India bagged a total of 65 medals, most-ever won by India at Asian Games tournaments. India also jumped two ranks from previous games to end at 6th spot in 2010 Asian Games. The last Asian Games tournament were held at Incheon, South Korea and India managed to give commendable performance by bagging 57 medals. These included 11 gold, 10 silver and 36 bronze.

The total number of medals won by India at all Asian Games tournaments till now is 616, which includes 139 gold, 178 silver and 299 bronze. In the Asian Games 2018, India is expected to give its best performance with the emergence of some top-class athletes in recent times.