India is bullish about its performance in the forthcoming Asian Games to be held at Incheon in South Korea. In the 16 days’ games, as many as 439 events in 36 sports will be organized. Opening ceremony of the Games to be held on September 19, will be a mix of Korean traditional culture with the modern technology. The closing ceremony will be held on October 4. For India, the forthcoming sporting event is full of stakes; it will have to perform better than what it did at the just concluded Commonwealth Games, where by bagging 15 gold medals, got pushed to the fifth position. It was the feat that stood sharp contrast to the accomplishment Indian sporting fraternity had achieved in 2010, when the country was able to remain at the second position after Australia.
Yet, the scale of performance lies in hard work, mental toughness and quality training. Given that sporting giants like China, Japan and South Korea participate in the Asian Games, it is tougher than the Commonwealth Games. However, officials of Sports Authority of India (SAI) are brimming with optimism. The inclusion of new sporting events like archery, mixed relay triathlon and others for the first time in the 17th edition of Asian Games, has chances of India returning with large number of medals. It has also high medal hopes in events like wrestling, weightlifting, boxing, shooting, badminton and squash. Sports authorities are expecting India to clinch 10 to 14 medals from shooting and 12 to 16 medals from athletics.
At the Guangzhou Asian Games, India had finished sixth in the medal list. In fact, by bagging 64 medals, including 14 gold, it was the best ever performance by the Indian contingent in the 2010 Asian Games. Significantly, it was held on the back of New Delhi held Commonwealth Games where India had cornered 38 gold medals of the total 101 medals it had won. For the Incheon Asian Games, target before the Indian contingent is to win at least 65 medals. The disciplines that brought India laurels at the Guangzhou Games are being given special focus with the goal of banging right on the target. However, a cloud of doubt hangs over Indian football and table tennis teams’ participation at the 17th edition of the Asian Games. Slim chance of medal returns is cited as the key reason behind the buzz of dropping the two sporting disciplines.
There is also no possibility of India sending teams in baseball, bowling, fencing, karate, modern pentathlon, rugby, softball, soft tennis and triathlon. But then there is a feeling of morose in the India’s sporting camp. In the forthcoming Asian Games, disciplines like cue sports, chess and roller sports have not been included. In the 2010 Asian Games, India had bagged total eight medals in the three disciplines. India hopes to compensate by giving sterling performances in Kabbadi. Also, optimism shown by women by winning altogether 29 medals in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, is keeping alive chances of good medal harvests for India. But overall, the picture is hazy so far as the size of the Indian contingent is concerned.
The Indian Olympic Association, the key sporting organization of the country, had presented a list of 912, including officials, for clearance from the Union government for the Asian Games. The government is said to have asked the IOA to prune the list. It is said that in the 2010 Asian Games, India had sent over 625 sportspersons and officials, and in the just concluded Commonwealth Games, the size of the contingent was also impressive. It had fielded a strong 215-member contingent for 14 sporting disciplines, including seven para-athletes. Nonetheless, for the moment, India appears serious to leave nothing for chances and this optimism is what is guiding New Delhi to siege the opportunity at Incheon.