|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Indian athletes a disaster in Doha
December 13, 2006 18:18 IST
India's overall show in the athletics event of the Asian Games was a disaster, marked by a sharp decline in gold medal haul and below par performances by many of them.
If the athletes were the toast of the nation in the last edition of the Games in Busan where they captured as many as seven gold, six silver and four bronze medals, the measly collection of medal this time around speaks volumes of India's current standard at the Asian level.
The women's 4 x 400 relay team, comprising Sati Geetha, Manjeet Kaur, K Chitra and Pinki Pramanik, was the only one to win a gold medal, saving India the blushes on the very last day of competitions.
Many of the athletes were regarded as medal prospects when they left for Doha but winning just one gold, four silver and four bronze medal hardly did justice for sending a 42-member contingent for the Games.
There were some unheralded athletes such as Santhi Soundarajan and O P Jaisha who came to the big stage without any expectations and returned home with silver and bronze medals respectively.
Santhi turned out to be the surprise package by clinching a silver medal in the women's 800 m run with a creditable timing but the same cannot be said of many of the other athletes who failed to come anywhere near their best timing or their best throw.
The seasoned Anju Bobby George, who had stayed away from competing in too many events this year, secured a silver medal in the women's long jump event.
Anju had won a gold in the same event in Busan four years ago but for an ageing athlete who has been struggling to find her peak form, a silver medal is better than no medal at all.
Anju is India's best-known athlete and a proven customer at the highest level and it is understandable if the country expects more from her.
The star Kerala athlete herself admitted that there was enormous pressure on her to deliver as she had skipped many competitions this year to prepare for the Games though she never elaborated on why she had to skip these competitions.
Anju then skipped the triple jump event the following day and there are different versions for her staying away.
No official from the Indian contingent has given an official statement to clarify why Anju pulled out of the event, but fever and back strain are said to be the reasons.
India probably frittered away a golden chance of winning another gold medal in the men's 4 x 400 relay as the team comprising Aboo Backer, Joseph Abraham, Bhupinder Singh and K M Binu messed it up completely and had to be content with the silver medal.
Quarter miler Pinki Pramanik, billed as a medal prospect, failed to win any medal and said an injury had prevented her from putting up a better display.
Throwers Vikas Gowda and Navpreet Singh were the other athletes who were a big disappointment.
On the whole, it turned out to be a reality check for Indian athletics and now it is abundantly clear that India has to do a lot of catching up to match other top athletic nations in Asia.
Doha Asian Games 2006: The Complete Coverage