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Rediff.com  » Sports » India @ Asiad: Panghal punches his way to glory; Bridge duo ace gold

India @ Asiad: Panghal punches his way to glory; Bridge duo ace gold

September 01, 2018 21:05 IST

India win 15 gold, 24 silver, 30 bronze medals, finish in top-10 at eighth for the third consecutive Games.

IMAGE: India's Amit Panghal celebrates with the gold medal he won in the men’s light-flyweight boxing at the Asian Games on Saturday. Photograph: PTI

Amit Panghal displayed soldier's grit to stun the reigning Olympic champion for India's only boxing gold while two 50-plus bridge players proved that age is just a number with top finishes as the country achieved its best-ever medal haul at the Asian Games, in Jakarta, on Saturday.

India equalled its best gold medal haul by touching 15, something that last happened back in 1951, as the overall tally surpassed the 65 in Guangzhou by three this time.

 

Apart from the 15 gold, India won 24 silver and 30 bronze medals for a brilliant show that helped them finish inside the top-10 at eighth for the third consecutive time.

Starting the day on 13 gold, armyman Amit was up against quite a few odds as he took on reigning Olympic and Asian champion Hasanboy Dusmatov, the man he narrowly lost to in the World championships quarter-finals almost a year ago.

The day ended with the men's hockey team redeeming itself to an extent by beating arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 to walk away with a consolation bronze medal.

The gutsy 22-year-old pugilist, though, the only Indian to make the finals in boxing, prevailed 3-2 as India ended its boxing campaign at the Games with a gold and bronze, which was won by Vikas Krishan in the middleweight category.

Amit showed immense tactical brilliance, especially in defence to outdo the Uzbek, who has an iconic status in international boxing.

"I had lost to him before, so I had to take revenge. Coach Santiago (Nieva) and other coaches had prepared me well. In the semi-final, I did not play the first round well; here I did not repeat that mistake," Amit said after the bout.

Today's victory  marks the highest point of Amit's meteoric rise to the top, starting with an Asian Championships bronze last year.

IMAGE: India’s Pranab Bardhan and Shibhnath Sarkar proudly show off their gold medals with National flag after the presentation ceremony for the men's bridge pairs event at the Asian Games on Saturday. Photograph: PTI

Then came two men nearing retirement in any contemporary job, but who made their Asian Games debut in the debut discipline.

Old friends Pranab Bardhan and Shibnath Sarkar quietly added a gold to India's tally as the focus remained on traditional sports.

Bardhan, at the age of 60, became the oldest man in an Indian contingent to win a medal at the Games; he and his 56-year old partner finished the men's pair event with a score of 384.

They edged out China's Lixin Yang and Gang Chen, who finished with 378 points after five rounds of the competition.

"I could not sleep last night and ate only fruit for breakfast. It's tough; the blood circulation shoots up with tension. We beat China and Singapore, it's great result for us," said an elated Sarkar, who taught the game of bridge to students at Jadavpur University.

Bardhan, who had a construction business, said, "Bridge is more challenging than chess. It's the most competitive indoor game."

IMAGE: India's Tanvi Khanna, Dipika Pallikal Karthik, Sunayna Kuruvilla and Joshana Chinappa pose with the National flag after losing to Hong Kong in the women's team final. Photograph: PTI

India finished third overall with one gold and two bronze medals, having won a bronze each in the men's and the mixed team events.

The squash players, who had shocked powerhouse Malaysia in the semi-finals, were stopped in their tracks by Hong Kong in the women's team final and had to settle for silver.

Sunayna Kuruvilla and India number one Joshna Chinappa lost their respective singles as the team suffered its second defeat against Hong Kong in the space of three days.

A silver was a creditable performance nonetheless, having surprised defending champions Malaysia in the semi-finals on Friday. With a runners-up finish, India equalled their best-ever performance at the Games. They also reached the final at Incheon four years ago.

The Indian contingent ended up with five medals overall, including the women's team silver, the men's team bronze and three bronze medals in the individual event.

IMAGE: India's players celebrate after scoring against Pakistan. Photograph: PTI

The Indian men's hockey team maintained its recent domination over arch-rivals Pakistan with a 2-1 win, ensuring a consolatory bronze medal after a below-par performance in the tournament.

Akashdeep Singh scored a brilliant field goal in the third minute while Harmanpreet extended India's advantage in the 50th off a penalty-corner before Muhammad Atiq increased the heart rate of the fans with a strike in the 52nd minute.

In the end, India managed to hold on to the lead and emerge triumphant.

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