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India way behind Asian nations
August 25, 2004 19:53 IST
Last Updated: August 25, 2004 19:58 IST
Even as the Indian Olympic campaign never quite took off in Athens, a handful of other Asian countries, including Thailand, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, have secured at least one title each, with continental powerhouse China giving the United States, the world's leading sports nation, a run for their money.
China were, in fact, leading the gold medal race till the athletics events commenced, and at the end of the 11th day of the Games were strongly placed to take the number two position behind the US with a tally of 24-15-12, slightly above their pre-Games expectations of 20 gold medals.
The Asian giants, however, are yet to crack open the gold medal chest in athletics, the blue riband discipline of the Games, but in ten other events they occupied the topmost place on the podium with weightlifting providing the Chinese their biggest bonanza.
The Chinese had a tally of 28 gold medals at Sydney four years ago and are already looking well set to better that tally with five more days left for the Games to end.
While China are expected to do very well and at least finish among the top three, Japan are the surprise pack from the continent this time around.
The Japanese had a pretty unimpressive haul in the 2000 Games, with a tally of 5-8-5 for a 14th place finish. However, they learnt lessons from that poor show, as is indicated by their medal haul of 15-8-9 this time. It has given them the third spot till date, going into the final stretch of the extravaganza.
The Japanese are indebted to judo, the sport they invented, for the impressive haul of the yellow metal, having grabbed as many as eight gold medals in the discipline.
But their successes have also come in the swimming pool, gymnastics, women's wrestling - which made its debut here, and in a historic event in which they have a long history of glory, the marathon.
Woman marathoner Mizuki Noguchi ran the gruelling 42.2-km event in and around places where the immortal Phidippides, with his body soaked in blood, made that historic run in fifth century BC to announce the defeat of the Persian army by the Greeks before collapsing to death due to exhaustion.
Korea, tenth in Sydney, are lying in the 12th position with a heist of 6-10-5. They captured eight gold in Australia four years ago and can still outstrip or at least equal that tally.
Women's weightlifting, and not boxing, provided the Thais with two gold medals here, one better than what they got in the previous Games.
Indonesia's gold has come from their traditional strong suit of badminton, with shuttler Taufik Hidayat stopping Korea's Shon Seung Mo in the men's singles final.
Even UAE, a country with a miniscule population compared to India, have made history by winning a gold medal in double trap shooting. This was the event in which India's Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore fetched the country its first ever silver medal, the only podium finish so far for a nation of over one billion people.
After making history through Rathore, India spoiled much of the silver medal's sheen when two of its women lifters were caught for doping for the first time in at an Olympics.
That is the sordid tale of India's challenge at the Athens Games.