By Rajinder Pal Devgan
Hangzhou, 10 Oct: The Asian Games came to an end with the Deputy Mayor of Aichi-Nagoya receiving the OCA flag from the Acting President Raja Randhir Singh.
Notwithstanding a few aberrations here and there the Games were a tremendous success. The Indian Contingent was cock-a-hoop taking a bagful of medals, 107 to be precise, home.
To Indians, Neeraj Chopra, the Golden Boy, didn’t disappoint and brought home the Gold Medal. But it was the Athletes’ 29 medals and Shooters’ 22 that led the show.
In Athletics, to me, the most unexpected performance was that of Parul Chaudhary, when she came from behind to win the gold in the 5000 metres race. Sometimes it’s a pity that the limelight is on the Cricket and Hockey teams and top performances like Parul’s and Rani’s gold in Javelin don’t get their due. Another performance that caught my eye was the Silver in Decathlon. India won a medal after 22 years. T Shankar in doing so set up a new National record.
The Squash teams, Men and Women, deserve a special mention. Five medals in all is a very creditable achievement.
Saurav Ghosal at 37 years is India’s living legend in Squash. He has won 9 medals in 17 years at the Asian Games. A gold eluded him again. My heart bled for him when he left the court, downcast, beaten again in the finals. His adversary, a good 15 years his junior, beat him to the Gold on sheer stamina.
The insensitive reporters bugged Saurav soon after the game even as he was bathed in sweat with questions on whether this was going to be his last Asian Games. His reply, “Things are very raw. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.”
Unfortunately, some reporters don’t realise when to leave a sportsman, who is hurting, alone.
Saurav Ghosal is without any doubt the best Squash player India has ever produced.
Other sports had their moments, too.
Another big win was in Badminton Doubles. This Gold proved to the world that when it comes to Badminton, India is a power house now.
Many who had attended other Games such as the Olympics, Commonwealth and Asian Games felt that Hangzhou had outdone all.
As I packed up to catch an early flight to Singapore, I reflected on what had happened during the games and my impression and feelings.
The memory of the 19th Asian Games at Hangzhou that stood way out for me was the President of the Olympic Council of Asia, Raja Randhir Singh, presenting a Silver Medal to his daughter and then holding her in a short embrace. Years ago, at the Asian Games in Bangkok, Raja Balindra Singh had presented his son, Randhir Singh, the Gold medal in Individual Trap. These are the wonderful moments sport brings for families and people and binds people together.
Shay, shay Hangzhou!
(RP Devgan is an Educator and Sportsman.)