Asian Games: The popular Broadcasting slogan 'Iss baar 100 paar' is a big motivator for the Asian Games-bound Indian contingent. India has sent its largest contingent to the sporting spectacle in Hangzhou as 655 athletes are vying to bring glory to India. The best-ever finish for the nation came only four years back when a 570-member contingent brought 70 medals to the nation. But how possible is it to get that magical three-figure mark in Hangzhou?
The Indian athletes have made a strong start in the 2023 Asian Games with medals raining from shooting and rowing. India has already clinched 32 medals in Hangzhou in the first six days and shooting has proved to be a standout so far as the sport has given medals 18 medals, including six out of the eight Gold medals. On the other hand, rowing has provided five medals to the nation so far. There are a few more medals which have been confirmed but 32 is the exact number which have been bagged.
Will the rest give India 68 more?
There are some strong sporting events lined up for India. The nation boasts strength in athletics, shooting, boxing, wrestling, tennis and hockey. Shooting is nearly done now and only 10m Air Pistol mixed event is left.
The athletic contingent is the biggest among the other contingents sent for the Asiad with 68 athletes competing in Hangzhou. Neeraj Chopra, the Javelin defending champion, is the biggest Gold medal hope in athletics as he has recently completed the holy trinity of Javelin. Tajinder Singh Toor is also the reigning champion in the shot put and is likely to stand on the podium.
The Boxing contingent will rely on the likes of World champion Nikhat Zareen, Tokyo medallist Lovlina Borgohain and World Championships bronze-medallist Deepak Bhoria. There are 10 more boxers but some of them are out of medal contention already. Notably, Nikhat has assured herself of a medal after winning her quarterfinal bout.
The Archery event is yet to be kicked off on October 1 and India has a 16-member contingent for it. There are some medal hopes namely - Aditi Swami, Jyothi Vennam, Parneet Kaur and Ojas Deotale. These four compound archers recently became the first Indian athletes with gold medals at the World Championships. They could add to the 32 medals that India has won till now.
Tennis is among the sports which has given 32 medals to India in the history of the Asian Games. India has dominated well in the men's doubles category as the players have competed in the finals in the last five editions. This time too the pair of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Saketh Myneni played the showdown clash but went down in the final. Rohan Bopanna too made a shocking exit from the early stages in the men's doubles event to deny a medal.
Moreover, the Indians are likely to be challenged in weightlifting, badminton and wrestling. There are only two athletes in the weightlifting sport with Mirabai Chanu and Bindyarani Devi shouldering the responsibility for a medal. Chanu did not take part in the World Championships and went to give weight. There is a strong field of weightlifters in the sport.
There is a strong field in badminton too with China being the biggest giant. PV Sindhu is witnessing a dip in form as she has made several first-round exits in 2023 and a medal win can't be assured. In wrestling, Vinesh, Sakshi Malik and Sangeeta Phogat are not participating and Bajrang Punia has not trained much ahead of the Asiad.
A 100-medal reach can be hard but as PT Usha said this contingent "has the potential to get India its best medal haul", it is unfair to count the target out.