FPJ Exclusive: 'Asian Games Silver Medal A Boost For Bridge Players In India,' Says Jaggy Shivdasani

FPJ Exclusive: 'Asian Games Silver Medal A Boost For Bridge Players In India,' Says Jaggy Shivdasani

The 65-year-old Jaggy Shivdasani was India’s oldest medallist in the Hangzhou Asian Games and he is still going strong

Haridev PushparajUpdated: Monday, October 16, 2023, 04:54 PM IST
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India had produced its greatest ever Asian Games performance in the recently concluded event with 107 medals and the oldest member of the Indian contingent to win a medal is basking in the glory of his latest feat.

The 65-year-old Jaggy Shivdasani had clinched a silver medal in the Bridge event when the Indian team comprising Shivdasani, Sandeep Thakral, Raju Tolani and Ajay Prabhakar Khare stunned fancied China in the semifinals.

They later went on to lose to Hong Kong in the final.

Shivdasani speaks to FPJ

Talking about his experience in Hangzhou, Shivdasani began by saying it wasn’t his first time at the continental Games.

“This was not my first Asian Games. First was in Jakarta at the age of 60. It was a tremendous experience at both Games but more so in China. Jakarta we got a bronze and of course getting a silver in Hangzhou was an even better experience.

"And China, in terms of facilities and the organisation was fantastic, they did a great job. It was phenomenal for me as an athlete at the age of 65 to be competing here at the Asian Games," Shivdasani told the Free Press Journal.

Shivdasani was also all praise for the Games village where the athletes were put up.

“The village was beyond fantastic. I stayed at a hotel mostly, not at the village. At my own cost, I stayed at a hotel. Public transportation was seamless. The only downside was I could not interact much with our fellow countrymen and other sporting stars as I was not staying at the village,’’ he added.

“At the PM’s award felicitation, I did run into Neeraj Chopra and it was great connecting with him.’’

Talking about his event at the Games, Shivdasani felt India did punch much above its weight on its way to the final.

“Coming to the actual event, we were favourites to qualify for playoffs. But not expected to go beyond semis. We beat China in a very, very close match. It was an exhilarating feeling to beat the pre-tournament favourites and give ourselves a chance of winning a gold medal.’’

“Getting a silver medal in the Asian Games is no mean feat. While I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t make the final closer. It’s a boost for the country and the bridge players in the country. I would have loved to have a gold but I’ll take a silver.’’

The veteran though felt it was not the greatest moment of his long career.

“Comparing this silver medal, I would rate it very high but not the greatest feat. I would rate the 1988 World Championship bronze medal higher than this. On the personal front, I debuted at an American national event and won that on debut, I was the first non-American to do so”

Reminiscing about the Asian Games final, he said Hong Kong was far superior.

“We were outplayed by Hong Kong in the final. They were thoroughly deserving winners. They took some chances that worked in their favour and that is the beauty of bridge where there are imponderables that at times work for you.’’

Shivdasani also felt they did get adequate preparation for the Games.

“The Government of India appointed a coach and for the last six months we had good regular practice sessions. And we have the results. We beat China, that is a force in world bridge. We are among the top-10 teams in world bridge. We came close in the World championships, almost reached the quarterfinals.’’

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