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South Asian Games: Hit or miss? Tell Us!

February 17, 2016 14:07 IST

For the 12th successive time, none could match up to India's regional might but the host country's record-breaking medal haul of 308 can hardly hide the fact that the standard of competition in the South Asian Games has failed to rise significantly.

Relevance of the event


IMAGE: Indian contingent marching past at the closing ceremony of the 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati on Tuesday. Photograph: PTI

This was the best performance by any country in the Games' 32-year history but what is worrying for the relevance of the event is that it has been reduced to an Indian show of dominance for most part.

This time too, the Indian athletes ran away with 188 gold, 90 silver and 30 bronze medals. The host country bagged more than three-fourth of the total 239 gold on offer in the February 5-16 showpiece.

Sri Lanka were a distant second with 25 gold, 63 silver and 98 bronze while Pakistan finished at third with 12 gold, 37 silver and 57 bronze.

The only edition in which India's domination was near comparable was the 1995 Games in then Madras where India won 106 gold -- just less than three-fourth -- out of 143.

India has always finished on top in all the 1 editions of the SAG so far but the domination this time was unprecedented with clean or near clean sweep in boxing, archery, tennis, badminton, table tennis, shooting, athletics, wrestling, swimming, weightlifting, cycling, judo and wushu.

The Indians also bagged both the men's and women's gold in traditional sports of kabaddi and kho-kho, and in handball and volleyball, besides picking all the three gold on offer in triathlon.

Taekwondo was the only discipline in which India had to settle for the runners-up place behind Afghanistan. The Indians bagged five gold, three silver and two bronze medals, while Afghans had a tally of 6-1-1 in taekwondo.


Pakistan's Awais-ur-Rehman (second right) celebrates after scoring against India

IMAGE: Pakistan's Awais-ur-Rehman (second right) celebrates after scoring against India during the hockey final at the South Asian Games in Guwahati. Photograph: PTI

The biggest disappointment for India was their failure to win a men's hockey gold since the 1995 edition as they lost yet again to arch-rivals Pakistan in the summit clash. Pakistan thus claimed their third gold on the trot having won in 2006 and 2010 editions, beating India on both the previous occasions as well.

The women's hockey team, however, easily claimed the gold by mauling their opposition teams.

Indian men's football team also failed to win the gold, losing to Nepal in the final in front of a football-crazy crowd of Guwahati. The women's team though won the gold in the final international match of star Manipuri player and captain Oinam Bembem Devi who hung her boots after an illustrious career spanning two decades.

Second string teams

India's total domination was despite the country fielding second string teams in major and multiple medal offering disciplines like athletics, wrestling and weightlifting. There were, however, near full strength teams in top disciplines of shooting, badminton, boxing and archery.

Biggest sporting spectacle in Northeast


IMAGE: Artistes from Nepal perform at the closing ceremony of the 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati. Photograph: PTI

The 12th edition of the Games, the biggest sporting spectacle in this Northeastern part of India, were the biggest ever with more than 2500 athletes competing in 23 sports.

Even as the seating capacity was limited to just about 500 at the SAI Complex in North Eastern Hill University Campus in Shillong, there was huge excitement with crowd pullers in Mary Kom (51kg), L Sarita Devi (60kg) and Shiva Thapa (56kg) among others winning gold.

The 12th SAG, co-hosted by Guwahati and Shillong, were largely successful in the field of play with several Games records broken though hit by organisational issues, especially with respect to media facilities.

The blue-riband event of athletics gave the maximum number of gold medals to the India's overall medals kitty by contributing a whopping 28 yellow metals while shooting, swimming, wrestling and weightlifting gave 26, 18, 14 and 13 gold medals respectively.

Indians got a clean sweep in boxing, badminton, tennis, archery and table tennis by bagging all the gold medals on offer respectively.

In athletics, the icing on the cake was veteran long distance runner Kavita Raut clinching gold in women's marathon and qualifying for Olympics in the process. Raut is the only athlete to have booked a Rio Games berth from the Games.

Shooting was one discipline in which India sent a strong team with as many as six Rio Olympics bound athletes and the host country simply annihilated opposition by claiming all but one gold medal to fetch a haul of 26 yellow metals.

In archery as well, the Indians clinched all the 10 gold medals on offer  with another four silvers in their incredible effort.

The host country also made a clean sweep of gold medals in badminton despite the absence of star shuttler and Olympic bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap who pulled out at last minute.

In wrestling, the home team grapplers simply annihilated their opponents as they scooped 14 gold medals out of a total of 16 on offer.

It was the same story of Indian dominance in weightlifting also as a second string team bagged all but two gold on offer in an overwhelming display of domination.

In tennis too, the Indians made a memorable clean sweep by bagging all the five gold and silver on offer. All the five finals -- men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles -- were all-Indian affairs.

Table tennis was another event in which India made a clean sweep by clinching all the seven gold medals on offer besides bagging five silver.

In judo, the Indians bagged nine gold and three silver in a show of overwhelming superiority while the Wushu players gave the country 8 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze in another display of complete domination.

In squash, a full strength Indian team won three gold and two bronze medals. Star player Joshna Chinappa won her individual women's singles gold but Sourav Ghosal disappointed by failing to reach the finals.