Jakarta, Sep 1: A golden dream unfulfilled for over 30 years remained just that in women's hockey but India equalled its best-ever medal haul as bridge, sailing, boxing, squash joined the assorted contributors to the country's tally at the 18th Asian Games. On Saturday, India won a gold each in boxing and bridge and a silver in women's squash team. Men's hockey team defeated arch rival Pakistan to get a bronze.
The Indian position in the overall tally is the best ever with 69 medals, which beats its tally of 65 in 2010 -- the country's best-ever
Asiad show. The haul includes 15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze medals.
On the penultimate day of competitions on Friday, the euphoria of track-and-field gold rush was far over but the momentum was certainly retained with a
silver and a couple of bronze coming in from the sailing events.
The women's hockey team, however, endured a heartbreak, albeit not as big as the men. They lost to Japan 1-2 in the final despite being favourites for gold. But it was still a step up from the bronze that came in the 2014 edition.
The Indian position in the overall tally was a steady eighth with 65 medals, which is the same as 2010 -- the country's best-ever
Asiad show. The haul includes 13 gold, 23 silver and 29 bronze medals.
The highlight of the day was the sailing performance, India's best showing. Varsha Gautham and Sweta Shervegar claimed silver in 49er FX event while two men combined to overcome disqualification in their previous race to grab a bronze. Thanks to their showing, the country enjoyed its best result since 1982. In 1982, India won a gold in fireball, a silver in enterprise and a bronze in wind-glider.
For Varsha, it was her second Asiad medal as she had won a bronze in 29er with Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan in the 2014 edition.Varsha and Sweta were not chosen by the federation to represent India and only after a court battle did they reach the Indonesian capital.
At the helm of her 49erFX, 20-year-old Varsha and her crew partner Sweta, completed the 15-race event with 40 net points to finish second behind winners from Singapore, who had just 14 net points. Sailors are given points after each race, and the pair, which gets the least points, is declared the winner.
"These were stressful three months. But everything has paid off. There were a lot of up and down. A lot happened. At least 10 times I thought, it's not worth it, I can't handle it but somehow I continued. It was certainly not a glamorous race, there was pressure," Varsha said.
Varun Thakkar Ashok and Chengappa Ganapathy Kelapanda won bronze with a total of 53 after race 15 in the 49er men's event.
The Indian women's hockey team, however, failed to break its 36-year-old gold jinx. The loss will hurt the Indians badly as a
gold here would have guaranteed a direct qualification in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Minami Shimizu and Motomori Kawamura scored for Japan through penalty corners in the 11th an 44th minute while Neha
Goyal's field goal in the 25th minute was the lone strike for India, who were aiming to win their first Asiad gold since 1982.
The Indians had qualified for the final of the Asian Games after a gap of 20 years gap, having beaten China in the semi-finals.
There was plenty to celebrate in the squash competition. Joshna Chinappa upstaged eight-time world champion Nicol David as
the Indian women's squash team outplayed defending champions Malaysia 2-0 to enter its second successive Asian Games
The Indian men, who also entered the mega-event as defending champions, settled for bronze after a 0-2 loss to Hong Kong in
the semi-finals. Saurav Ghosal, who was not fully fit, and Harinder Pal Sandhu, lost to Max Lee and Leo Au, 0-3 and 1-3
The loss came after the women's team blanked the David-led Malaysia in the semi-finals. The team, comprising Joshna, Dipika
Pallikal Karthik and Sunayna Kuruvilla, ended up with a silver.
In the boxing ring, it was golden day for Debutant Amit Panghal (49kg) on Saturday. The 22-yr old Army man continued his sensational run to win gold beating Olympic champion and world championships silver-medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan.
News24 Bureau with PTI inputs