India has cleared a contingent of 543 athletes to compete in 34 sports at the sporting extravaganza. The Asian Games provide a chance for the Indian athletes to extend their dominance exhibited at the Commonwealth Games. It shall also function as an acid test for the preparations ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
As the athletes gear up for the quadrennial event, let us have a look at the gold prospects for India at the Games across various sports:
#1 India Medal Contenders: Badminton
The Indian shuttlers have been in rich vein of form in recent times. The talent, nurtured and groomed under the watchful eyes of coach Pullela Gopichand, has been consistently making India proud at the international level. Saina Nehwal bagged the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games this year while PV Sindhu clinched silver medals at Gold Coast and the World Championships.
The mixed team has also been in great form as they made history by clinching gold at the Team Event in CWG 2018.
In the absence of Carolina Marin, Sindhu is the best player in the world on paper. With her ability to win long rallies and her scintillating smashes, Sindhu promises to breathe fire. Saina, too, would be looking to put her experience to best use in the quadrennial event.
Badminton promises to be a highly competitive event as the powerhouses of Asia lock horns at Jakarta. The likes of Akane Yamaguchi, Ratchanok Intanon, Nozomi Okuhara, and Lin Dan pose a challenge in front of the Indians.
Thus, women shuttlers are the main contenders for the apex glory at Jakarta, but with the decent form the male shuttlers are in, they might also go all the way.
Saina vs Sindhu Commonwealth games 2018
Lee Chong Wei vs Srikanth Kidambi – Badminton Asia Championships 2018 QF
#2 India Medal Contenders: Shooting
Shooting has been one of the main sports scripting glory for India at multi disciplinary events. The shooters have always been on the forefront for winning medals for the country, be it Olympics, the Asian Games or the Commonwealth Games.
Indian won the maximum medals, 16, in shooting at Gold Coast this year. Heena Sidhu extended her dominance at the Games. She also clinched two medals at the Commonwealth Games this year and was part of the gold triumph in the 10m air pistol mixed team event.
While a seasoned campaigner as her is expected to marshal the shooting contingent, the emergence of young guns such as Manu Bhaker and Anish Bhanwala also provide a boost to India’s chances.
Shooting: Women’s 10m Air Pistol – Day 2 Highlights Part 1 | Glasgow 2014
CommonWealth Games 2018: Manu Bhaker breaks CWG record to clinch Gold, India now 3rd in medal tally
#3 India Medal Contenders: Wrestling
India has produced some of the finest wrestling talents in the previous decade, many of whom have gone on to script international success. The Indian grapplers have been in rich vein of form, with all 12 athletes bagging medals at the Commonwealth Games this year.
Sushil Kumar stunned everyone, defying concerns regarding his form and fitness, as he raced away to a gold in the 74 kg freestyle event. The two-time Olympic medallist is the favourite contender in the Asian Games as well.
Vinesh Phogat, who clinched gold in the Commonwealth, eyes her maiden gold at the quadrennial event, while Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik would be keen to make amends on her bronze medal outing at Gold Coast.
Wrestling is expected to fetch a chunk of medals for India, with Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat spearheading the Indian challenge at Jakarta.
CWG 2018: Sushil Kumar wins Gold in men’s freestyle 74kg wrestling
Sakshi Malik Olympic bronze medal in Rio Olympic winning moments
#4 India Medal Contenders: Kabaddi
The Indian team exhibited its technical supremacy at The Dubai Masters this year, producing a clinical performance. The squad for Jakarta comprises of stalwarts from that team. Poster boy Rahul Chaudhary, talisman Pardeep Narwal, steadfast Manjit Chillar and latest sensation Monu Goyat promise to be a formidable outfit under the capable leadership of Ajay Thakur.
India are the undisputed champions when it comes to Kabaddi. With rich and prodigious talent on the lines, India have the potential to even send two teams to compete at the highest level. India have won all the gold medals in Kabaddi since its inception at the quadrennial event.
The women’s team has also bagged the top honours on both occasions at the Asiad, since the inaugural event in the 2010 edition. The Indian women are also the favourites for the gold medal in the sport.
#5 India Medal Contenders: Athletics
Hima Das and Neeraj Chopra carry the burden of expectations at the Asian Games. Momentum has been on their side of late, with some stellar performances in the past few months.
While Neeraj Chopra took the top honours thrice, including a historic gold at the Commonwealth Games, Hima Das outran history as she became the first Indian track athlete to hold a global title, winning the 400 m in the World U-20 Championships 2018.
India has an extremely good record in Athletics in the sporting extravaganza, being third on the list of highest medals in the discipline. In recent times, the emergence of path-breakers such as Neeraj Chopra and Hima Das, has put India on a pedestal even at the global level.
Neeraj Chopra has been given the honour as the flag bearer for India at the opening ceremony of the Games, something which might add as a morale booster.