The equestrian team of Anush Agarwalla, Hriday Chheda, Sudipti Hajela and Divyakriti Singh made history by winning the country’s first-ever gold medal in Team Dressage and the first since 1982 as athletes from little-know and difficult to follow sports hogged the limelight and propelled India ahead on Day 3 of Asian Games medal hunt at Hangzhou on Tuesday.
It was the same team that the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) did not want to send to Hangzhou initially.
The Indian team comprising Sudipti (up on Chinski), Divyakriti (Adrenalin Firfod), Hriday (Chemxpro Emerald) and Anush (on Etro) scored 209.206 percentage points to finish ahead of hosts China, who scored 204.882. Hong Kong China won the bronze medal with a score of 204.852.
Horse and riders unite for victory
This is India’s second-ever medal in the Dressage Team event in the Asian Games after the bronze won by the team of Jitendarjit Singh Ahluwalia, Ghulam Mohammed Khan and Raghubir Singh when the sport made its debut in the 1982 edition held in New Delhi.
Before Hangzhou, India had won 3 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze medals in the Asian Games equestrian competitions. In 2018, India won two silver medals in equestrian, both coming in Eventing with Fouaad Mirza finishing second in the Individual competition and then partnering Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Malik and Jitender Singh to silver in the Team event.
That record is likely to be broken as India is expecting more medals in the next few days. All four have qualified for the Dressage Individual competition and the two best riders will be considered for medals.
The riders stole the show with their stunning performance in an incredible sport and difficult discipline in which both the rider and horse have to show tremendous coordination to complete a pre-determined set of movements in the three paces: walk, trot and canter, and show a smooth transition from one to another.
While the dressage team bagged India’s third gold medal in the 19th Asian Games, India also bagged two medals in sailing, an equally difficult and technical sport that may not capture the eyeballs of routine spectators.
Neha, Eabad sail into history books
The 17-year-old Neha Thakur and 25-year-old Eabad Ali also made history in sports as they won the first-ever medals for India in the Asian Games in their respective disciplines.
Neha, the daughter of a farmer from Amaltaj village in Dewas district of landlocked Madhya Pradesh, opened India’s account in the sailing competitions held at a sea resort nearly 100km away from Hangzhou, with a silver medal in the Girls’ Dinghy — ILCA4 at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre in Ningbo on Tuesday.
Eabad Ali then made the day more memorable for India as he brought in the bronze medal in the Men’s Windsurfer RS:X – RS event — the country’s first-ever medal in windsurfing.
The two medals on Tuesday, which will be added to India’s tally on Wednesday when the sailing programme comes to an end, seem to have set alight the Yachting Association of India’s hopes for a rich haul in the Hangzhou Asian Games as YAI is expecting at least three more medals on the final day of competitions on Wednesday.
Though medals from equestrian and sailing kept India’s hunt for medals going in Hangzhou, there were a lot of setbacks for the country on Tuesday as India missed the medals in three categories.
Heartbreak for Ramita, Divyansh
None was as heartbreaking as the defeat suffered by top shooters Ramita Jindal and Divyansh Singh Panwar as they succumbed to nerves and failed to close out victory in the bronze medal match in the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team competition, losing to a Korean pair that came back from 0-8 down to catch up with the Indians at 15-15 and then eventually won the match 20-18 to claim the bronze medal.
“There was no pressure. I have played many finals earlier and this was nothing different. It’s just not our day,” said Panwar after the disappointing end to their medal quest. Panwar had earlier won the gold medal as part of the Men’s 10m Air Rifle Team while Ramita had claimed a silver in the women’s 10m Air Rifle Team competition and bronze in the individual event. If she had won the bronze medal, she would the bronze medal on Tuesday, and she would have become one of the few Indian shooters to win three medals in a single edition of the Asian Games.
However, Indian shooters got themselves into a position from where they could challenge for a few medals in the women’s 25m pistol and the two shotgun competitions, men’s and women’s skeet, in team and individual. Indians were in striking distance in all three competitions at the end of the first phase of these competitions on Tuesday and will return on Wednesday to hopefully wrap up the medals.
Judoka Tulika misses bronze
Commonwealth Games medallist judoka Tulika Mann too missed out on a medal in the women’s +78 kg, losing the bronze medal match to Adiyasuren Amarsaikhan of Mongolia by Ippon Golden Score in the judo venue at the Xiaoshan Linpu Gymnasium on Tuesday.
Tulika had lost to eventual bronze medallist Wakaba Tomita in the semifinals but came through the repechage round by beating Jia Wen Tsai of Chinese Taipei before bowing out to the Mongolian in the bronze medal match (two bronze (two bronze medals are given in judo).
Tulika Maan was the only Indian judoka to get into medal contention as the other three — Garima Choudhary, Indubala Devi and Avtar Singh bowed out in the preliminary rounds.
On the field, the men’s hockey team thrashed Singapore 16-1 while the women’s squash team defeated Pakistan quite easily. There was no such luck for the men’s volleyball team as it lost in straight games to arch-rivals Pakistan and finished sixth.
Boxers continue to shine
The boxers had a good day as Narender (92+kg) defeated Eichoro Uullu Oomatbek of Kyrgyzstan while World Youth Champion Sachin defeated Asri Udin of Indonesia 5-0 in the men’s 57kg, Round of 16 match.
It was a mixed day at the tennis courts too as top singles players Sumit Nagal and Ankita Raina reached the quarterfinals but the day ended in disappointment for Ramkumar Ramanathan and Rutuja Bhosale as they lost their respective men’s and women’s singles matches.
Rutuja and Karman Kaur Thandi went down to fifth seed Eudice Wong Chong and Hong Yi Wong of Hong Kong China 6-4, 6-1. Ankita Raina and Pratharna Thombare, too crashed out, the third seeds losing to Thailand’s Anchisa Chanta and Punnin Kowapitukted 5-7, 2-6 in another third-round encounter in women’s doubles.
In mixed doubles, India’s Ankita Raina and Yuki Bhambri defeated Pakistan’s Aqeel Khan and Sarah Ibrahim Khan 6-0, 6-0 in a second-round match.
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