Asian Games, a continental multi-sport event, takes place every four years with participation from over 45 nations. In the past, 9 countries have been hosts to this event. The most recent Games were organised at Palembang, Jakarta, from 18th August to 2nd September, 2018.
This blog is, however, not about the origin or history of The Asian Games. They say “Not All Heroes Wear Capes”, and our athletes are living proof of this very phrase. This blog is an appreciation post in honour of the phenomenal performance pulled off by the Indian athletes at the recently conducted Asian Games and of the fact that the cricket-fanatic India is now opening up to other sports.
India was host to the first ever Asian Games, organised in the year 1951 and was the proud recipient of 22 medals. Over the decades, our nation has been witness to many noteworthy moments when it comes to sports, be it bagging a Gold in football in 1951 or Mary Kom’s monumental victory in 2014.
While all are singing praises for the likes of PV Sindhu, Hima Das, Manika Batra, and Dutee Chand, we would like to take a moment here to also acknowledge the phenomenal performance of the young prospects, the future of Indian sports, bringing the unrecognised sports into the limelight, which in its own is a huge victory for us.
This growing influence of Indian athletes on international platforms only highlights the fact that there is a profusion of hidden talent in this country. India won a total of 69 medals in the Asian Games 2018. This a huge deal because it’s not easy to compete, and win against 45 contending nations. What makes this victory even more commendable is that most of these athletes were undergoing a lot of pressure and tackling issues of their own during the course of the Games, and yet they performed the way they did and brought glory to the nation.
Muhammed Anas Yahiya, who bagged a silver in the men’s 400m, had to appear in the Games while some of his close relatives were trapped in the Kerala floods. Swapna Barman performed with a bad jaw injury which she’d been suffering from before and during the Asian Games and her father had a stroke just around the commencement of the Games. A heptathlon is one of the most difficult track and field athletics event and an excruciating toothache made it even tougher for her. Yet, it couldn’t keep her from fighting for a Gold.
The shot put star, Tajinder Pal Singh Toor fought for a Gold at the Games, while his father fought cancer at a hospital in Punjab. He not only won a Gold but also created a whole new Asian Games record of throwing the shot at a distance of 20.75 m.
Dutee Chand, the daughter of weavers residing in Orissa, fought against the odds to to achieve all that she has, and that she rightfully deserves. She overcame a battle that nearly shattered her confidence, her spirit, and her career. Reportedly, she wasn’t considered womanly enough to be competing in the events for women in 2014. She’s been at the centre of a debate around a very controversial gender rule. However, on the tracks of Indonesia, she sprinted like a bullet and crushed more than just national records.
All of these instances give us a glimpse into all the obstacles that these athletes are confronted with and conquer, both on and off the field. There are quite a few such athletes who have fought and triumphed over these hurdles and transcended their own expectations along with the country’s. These athletes are the very reason that Indian sports are now gaining the well-deserved appreciation and recognition. The performance exhibited by these young warriors has not only made India proud, but has also inspired thousands of other athletes who have dreamed of making it big, and that’s what makes them the real heroes.