Sports

Year-Ender 2023: India At 19th Asian Games - Highlights From Historic Hangzhou Haul

From Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Kumar Jena's unprecedented one-two finish in men's javelin to Parul Chaudhary's breathtaking final surge to clinch the women's 5,000m gold, India had several memorable moments in its glorious Hangzhou Asian Games 2023 campaign. We chart them through this Year-Ender

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Parul Chaudhary won gold in the women's 5,000m race at Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou.
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What seemed to be a dream, not so long ago, was achieved with aplomb. The Indian contingent at Asian Games 2023 not only surpassed the country's previous highest medal haul of 70 (from the 2018 Jakarta Games), but also crossed the hallowed three-figure mark with a full day to spare in Hangzhou. (Sports News)

By the penultimate evening of the marquee multi-sport event, India had at least 101 medals confirmed, and the tally grew to an unprecedented mark of 107 by the end. The inspiring returns from India's triumphant sportspersons included 28 shining gold medals, which put the nation firmly in fourth place in the overall standings. Only China, Japan and South Korea, all three of whom are long-time powerhouses, preceded India. 

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Let us relive the glorious highlights of India's standout 2023 Asiad campaign:

Parul Chaudhary's Thrilling Last-Gasp Gold
Images will come and go, but one that will linger forever in Indian sports lovers' minds is that of Parul Chaudhary summoning every ounce of strength to mount a late surge in the last 50 metres of the women’s 5000m race, leaving Japan’s Ririka Hironaka with no time to react and grabbing the gold by the scruff of its neck. You can watch the video of her incredible run below.

The first-place finish capped off a sensational year for Parul, in which she won two medals at the Asian Athletics Championships. She snared gold in the 3,000m steeplechase event in Bangkok and a silver in the 5,000m event. At the Asian Games, she won medals in the same two events, only with the medals swapped.

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Five-Star Sweep In Compound Archery

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Ojas Pravin Deotale in action at the Hangzhou Asian Games. X/@Media_SAI

India's compound archers swept all five gold medals on offer - men's and women's individual and team, and mixed team events. The men’s individual compound archery event saw an all-India final, where 21-year-old Ojas Deotale pipped his senior teammate Abhishek Verma for the gold medal. 

Ojas and Jyothi Surekha Vennam ended with three gold medals each as India went from two archery silver medals in the 2018 edition to nine overall in 2023, which includes two recurve medals.

Golden Neeraj Chopra Finds Shining Ally In Kishore Kumar Jena 

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Neeraj Chopra (L) and Kishore Kumar Jena after their one-two podium finish at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou. AP/Lee Jin-man

A charged-up Neeraj Chopra overcame official incompetence to expectedly defend his Asian Games men's javelin title with a best throw of 88.88m in his fourth attempt. Neeraj's first throw seemed to be over 85m, but due to an unclear glitch with the measuring system, it could not be recorded and the Games officials asked Neeraj to retake it. The man from Khandra accepted the decision and came up trumps anyway.
 
But the story of the event was his compatriot Kishore Kumar Jena, who smashed his personal best twice in two throws and finished just one metre shy of Neeraj to script a historic one-two finish for India. Kishore too had to bear the brunt of an official error as his legal second throw was initially red-flagged. But he bounced back superbly to cap off a memorable evening for Indian athletics.

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Shooting Stars Reap Rich Rewards

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Indias gold-winning trio of Divyansh Panwar, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar and Rudrankksh Patil at the Hangzhou Asian Games. X/@Media_SAI

Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Esha Singh and Sift Kaur Samra led the way as the shooting contingent smashed records en route its never-seen-before 22-medal haul at the Asiad. This was 13 medals more than Jakarta 2018, and eight more than the previous best achieved in Doha 2006.

The talented trio of Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil, Aishwary and Divyansh Singh Panwar helped India win its first gold medal of Asian Games 2023 with a world record 10m air rifle team score of 1893.7. Rhythm Sangwan, Manu Bhaker and Esha too combined for a glittering gold in the 25m pistol women's team category.

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Absolute Dominance From Men's Hockey Team 

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Harmanpreet Singh (R) and Co in action at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Hockey India

The Indian men's hockey team ended a nine-year-long wait for an Asian Games gold and simultaneously punched their Paris Olympics 2024 ticket. Harmanpreet Singh and Co produced a clinical show all through the Games, crowning it with a 5-1 victory in the final over Japan.

The last time an Indian hockey team had won a gold at the Asiad was in Incheon in 2014. The time around, the side looked in complete control and came into the event on the back of a similarly dominant performance at the Asian Champions Trophy, where they won gold with an unbeaten run. On the back of these strong displays, India jumped to world number 3 in the FIH men's team rankings, and are likely to end 2023 there. 

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