India ended campaign in 6th position
The super charge led by athletes, boxers and tennis players in the last seven days of the Asian Games not only provided the impetus to the floundering Indian campaign but also scripted a memorable climax as the country recorded its best ever performance at the sporting event.
India ended its campaign in the sporting spectacle in the sixth position with 14 gold, bettering the 13 won at home in Delhi 28 years ago, 17 silver and 33 bronze medals.
The total medal haul of 64 here is also the highest for India in Asiad history as it bettered the 1982 haul in Delhi of 57 comprising 13-19-25.
The sixth spot on the medal rostrum by India is the best it has attained since 1986 at Seoul, but a quarter century ago there was no Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the rest of the former Soviet bloc to make the competition as stiff as it was here. In fact Kazakhstan finished higher than India.
India ended fifth in Seoul, though with a more modest haul of 5-9-23.
Image: Members of India's women's 4x400m relay team celebrate their win at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou
Athletes, Boxers steal the show from shooters
The Asian Games, the second largest after the Olympics, showed starkly that the majority of the Indian contingent had no credentials to compete at this level.
The shooters and wrestlers, who were the toast of the nation at the CWG, put up a flop show and had the thunder stolen from them by the athletes, boxers, India's number one tennis player Somdev Devvarman and also the kabaddi men and women teams.
The other creditable stories came from the archery range, where Tarundeep Rai bagged India's first ever individual medal a silver, and rower Takhar, who won India's first ever gold in the discipline and that too with borrowed boats.
Image: Preeja Sreedharan celebrates after winning the women's 10,000m final with Kavita Raut
Advani gave India first gold at the Games
Pankaj Advani gave India the first gold at the Asian Games 2010, when he fought back from a difficult situation to pocket the yellow medal.
Advani had to battle it out with Myanmar's OO Nay Thway Oo over five frames 3-2 to retain the English billiards singles title he won at the Doha Games four years ago.
The Bangalorean lost the opening and third frames before regaining his touch to put it across the Maynmarian 33-100, 100-61, 12-101, 101-4, 100-45.
"For me, this is the Olympics as we are not in the Olympics yet. The last time in Doha, Koneru Humpy beat me to the first gold. The timing and scheduling too helped me. It is an absolutely emotional moment. I cannot ask for more," he said.
Image: Pankaj Advani
Takhar with a surprise gold
Rowing was one sport, where India didn't expect to win a gold medal. But Bajrang Lal Takhar created history by notching up the first rowing gold medal in Asian Games others fetched three more medals.
The Rajasthan-born Bajrang Lal, who won the Asian championship gold last year in Korea beat the Chinese Taipei's Wang Ming Hui and Iraq's Haeider Hamarasheid (7:10.10) to grab gold.
Four years ago, the six-foot Bajrang Lal had become the first Indian to win a silver medal at the Asian Games.
Bajrang Lal, the 2006 South Asian Games champion in both single and double sculls, said later that he was determined to change the Doha silver into gold here.
"I won silver in the 2006 Asian Games. I had prepared for four years to fight for the gold medal today. I knew I would make it," said the rower from Sikar district.
Later the women's duo of Pratima Puhana and Pramila Minz, both in their teens, grabbed the pairs bronze in 7 minutes and 47.50 seconds, well behind gold medal winners China, who crossed the finish line far ahead in 7:22.06.
Image: Bajrang Lal Takhar
Somdev rises to the occasion
The rise of Somdev Devvarman may not surprise many as he has been one of the most consistent performers in the world of tennis.
Somdev not only managed to win a gold in the doubles competition with Sanam Singh, but he won many admirers when he beat Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin to pocket his second gold of the competition.
No Indian player had played in the gold-medal match in the men's singles before Somdev, world number 106, and the country had three bronze medals to show so far at the Games.
Leander Paes (Hiroshima in 1994), Mahesh Bhupathi (Bangkok in 1998) and Prahlad Srinath (Bangkok in 1998) had won those three bronze medal in the men's singles.
In fact, tennis provided the country with two gold, one silver medal (mixed doubles) and two bronze (Sania Mirza in women's singles and the men's team) medals.
Image: Somdev Devvarman
Vijender proves his worth
Indian boxing's poster boy Vijender Singh provided the spark to India's campaign as he outplayed two-time world champion Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan for the 75kg gold to finally attain win a title at a major event after a string of bronze medals in his kitty.
Teen sensation Vikas Krishan in the 60kg class simply overwhelmed his opponent in the final to create the biggest upset of the last day's action as he made up for his lackluster display at the CWG.
The Bhiwani powerhouse, who has targeted the London Olympic Games gold medal in 2012, and world junior and Youth Olympic Games champion Vikas lit up the boxing campaign to emerge in the lead pack of the total medal haul of two gold, three silver and four bronze medals.
Among those who could not secure the gold were Suranjoy Singh (men's 52kg) and five-time women's 47kg world champion M C Mary Kom who fought in the higher weight class 51kg.
Image: Vijender Singh
Athletes set the track on fire
Indian athletes came into the Asian Games after a successful Commonwealth Games in Delhi. But even they knew that the competition would be tougher in Guangzhou.
But the likes of Preeja Sreedharan, Abraham Joseph and Ashwini Chidananda set the track on fire, to give the country the confidence that they can compete at the highest level.
Karnataka runner Ashwini's heroics especially was the icing on the cake after experienced distance runners Preeja Sreedharan and Sudha Singh had provided the early spark with a double gold strike in women's 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase on the opening day of athletics.
Abraham took the corresponding men's low hurdles gold, the first for India in track events for men in 28 years after the 1982 feat of Charles Borromeo in the 800m, to help the country complete a pioneering golden double in the same athletics event in the Games.
The athletes bagged two silver and four bronze medals too to complement the five-gold haul and help the country end with its second-best-ever gold haul in athletics after the 2002 Games in Busan where the tally was 7-6-5 (17).
Image: India's women's 4x400m relay team stand with their gold medals
Kings and queens bag Kabaddi gold
Much was expected from the kabaddi teams to provide the boost to the gold haul and they did not disappoint.
The men's kabaddi team maintained their impeccable track record by winning the gold medal for the sixth time on the trot, demolishing Iran with a facile 37-20 margin what turned out to be a lop-sided contest.
The script unfolded on expected lines for the women's kabaddi team also as they completed a memorable Asian Games debut by clinching the gold medal with a comprehensive win over Thailand in the final.
The Indians beat Thailand 28-14 in a dominating performance to clinch the inaugural women's kabaddi gold of the Asian Games.
Image: The Indian players tackle a Bangladesh player during the women's kabaddi group match
Khade, Ashish Kumar impresses again
The success stories of gymnast Ashish Kumar, who won the floor exercise bronze for the first-ever medal in the sport, and swimmer Virdhwal Khade were also memorable.
Young Khade provided India with its first medal from the pool since 1986 Seoul Games. He bagged the men's 50m butterfly bronze.
Khazan Singh Tokas was the last medalist in swimming for India, winning silver in 200m fly in the Korean capital.
The only gold for Indian swimming had come through Sachin Nag in the inaugural edition of the Asiad in Delhi in 1951, in the 100m freestyle.
"I am very happy with the medal, as it has come after 1986 for India, though I wanted either a silver or a gold, particularly after missing the bronze in 50m freestyle so narrowly," said Khade.
India also won four bronze medals from little followed and practice games of wushu, the Chinese martial art, and roller skating (2) that was introduced here as a medal sport.
Image: Virdhawal Khade
Sodhi saves the day for shooters
Ronjan Sodhi was the only saving grace for shooters as they failed to live up to their good show at the Commonwealth Games.
Sodhi won gold in the double trap event.
The shooters including India's lone individual Olympic gold medal winner Abhinav Bindra, CWG four-gold hero Gagan Narang and women's world 50m rifle prone champion Tejaswini Sawant put up a poor show.
Narang secured two silver medals in the 10m air rifle event but flunked in windy conditions in the 50m range, Bindra exited without an individual medal to show for and Tejeaswini brought up the rear in her rifle competitions.
Overall the shooters garnered one gold, three silver and four bronze medals two of those from pistol shooter Vijay Kumar.
Image: Ronjan Sodhi
Tarundeep creates history
Tarundeep Rai created history after he became the first Indian archer to win a silver in the men's individual archery event.
In a closely fought contest, the Indian archer lost to the Woojin Kim of South Korea 28-28, 27-28, 29-28, 27-28, 27-29.
Rai gave a vital lead to his opponent in the last set as he shot an eight pointer in his first attempt. And even though the Indian made amends in the next two attempts by scoring nine points each but those did not prove enough to halt the Korean.
And at the end, Rai had to be content with a silver.
Image: Tarundeep Rai