It takes a lot of hard work to win a medal at Asian Games which sees participation of athletes from over 45 countries. Indian players who have won medals in Asian Games 2018 had to take a lot of efforts to beat the opponents, which include over 10,000 athletes.
What makes it more difficult are the hurdles that sportsmen have to face before participating in such events. Even in Asian Games 2018, many Indian medal winners faced many difficulties in their lives, but they eventually came out as winners at the end. They overcame all the odds of their lives and printed their names on the history of Indian sports.
For instance, Muhammed Anas Yahiya, who won the silver medal in the mixed 4x400m relay and men’s 400m, had to participate in Asian Games 2018 with his relatives being trapped in Kerala floods. Yahiya hails from Nilamel town near Thiruvananthapuram, and although his family is in safe zone, many of his relatives and friends were affected by the terrible floods in Kerala. Moreover, over 40 athletes from the state battled anxiety and concern for loved ones while trying to focus on their Asian Games campaign.
Swapna Barman, who bagged gold in Heptahalon event, played with a jaw injury which she got due to continuous toothache for two days. Swapna also faced knee and ankle injuries for nearly a year before she made a comeback in June, 2018 to participate in Asian Games for the second time. Her father, who is a rickshaw puller, faced a stroke as she started her Asian Games 2018 campaign.
Swapna played against all odds to beat the world class athletes and eventually emerged as a winner despite the tooth pain. She bagged the first ever gold medal for India in women’s heptathlon event after finishing the seven-discipline event with 6026 points.
Similarly, shot put champion Tejinder Pal Singh Toor also faced a lot of hurdles as he participated in the Asian Games 2018. Toor had to leave his cancer-stricken father in hospital in Punjab. But his passion paid off as he won the gold medal in shot put. The 23-year-old athlete not only won a gold, but came out with a new Asian Games record as he threw the iron ball to 20.75 m in his fifth attempt. It bettered a six-year old mark, set by Om Prakash Karhana (20.69m).
Another gold-medallist Manjit Singh was told by his previous employer ONGC that he is too old to improve his past performances. In 2016, ONGC disagreed to extend Manjit’s contract after he failed to win medals at the national or international level.
But Manjit did not quit the sports, and started training under Army chief coach Amrish Kumar at national camp in Ooty. He failed to qualify for Asian Championship 2017 and Commonwealth Games 2018. But his hard work paid off when he was selected for Asian Games 2018 after finishing second at Inter State Athletics Championships in Guwahati. Manjit Singh bagged gold in men’s 800 metre race with timing of 1 minute and 46.15 seconds and registered his name in the history of Asian Games medal winners.
Another such example is of Dutee Chand, who clinched silver medal in women’s 200m and 100 m events in the ongoing Asian Games 2018. Dutee had to fight a battle on the controversial ‘gender’ rule, which was revised before the Asian Games 2018, and eased the way for her participation.
The 22-year-old athlete was not allowed to participate in 2014 edition of Asian Games while serving a ban under the hyperandrogenism policy of the IAAF (international athletics federation). She appealed against the policy before the Court of Arbitration for Sports and won it.
So we can clearly see that there are lot of battles to be fought and lot of hurdles to be overcome before an athlete bags a medal in an international sports event like Asian Games 2018. These stories of Indian athletes clearly gives a glimpse regarding the hurdles they face not only on the field, but also behind the field.