Wrestler Bajrang Punia won India's first gold medal while shooters Apurvi Chandela and Ravi Kumar bagged a bronze medal on the opening day of the 18th Asian Games here on Sunday. Punia clinched the gold medal in the men's freestyle 65-kg category defeating Daichi Takatani of Japan 11-8 in the final. It was Bajrang's second successive gold medal at the Asian Games after his triumph in Incheon 2014 in the 61-kg category.
Sirojiddin Khasanov of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan's Sayatbek Okassov took the bronze medals. Chandela and Ravi bagged bronze in the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team event. The Indian pair scored 429.9 in the final round to finish on the podium. Chinese Taipei won the gold with a score of 494.1 while China took silver with 492.5.
But it was a day to forget for veteran star Sushil Kumar as the double Olympic medallist suffered a shock defeat to Adam Batirov of Bahrain in the first contest of the men's 74-kg freestyle category. Sushil seemed sluggish and off-colour right from the start during his rather lacklustre 3-5 defeat to Batirov. He lost 2-8 to Japan's Yuhi Fujinami in the quarter-finals which ended Sushil's chances of entering the repechage round. (Check out the video highlights here)
The final of the 65-kg category witnessed a tough battle as the Japanese gave a good fight after struggling in the initial stages against Bajrang. He raced away to a 6-0 lead within the first couple of minutes before Daichi fought back to take four consecutive points, going into the break.
The second round saw a tough, see-saw battle. Daichi equalised at 6-6 shortly after the restart. Both wrestlers fought tooth and nail in the final two minutes before the Indian emerged a deserving winner. Earlier, Bajrang crushed Sirojiddin on technical superiority in his campaign opener.
Bajrang struggled in the early stages as Khasanov opened up a comfortable 3-0 lead. But the Indian staged a strong comeback by notching up six consecutive points to lead 6-3 at the break. Bajrang completely dominated the second and final round, scoring seven points within two minutes to take a 13-3 lead which saw him being adjudged the winner due to technical superiority.
A wrestler is considered winner by technical superiority when he leads by 10 or more points. Bajrang thrashed Fayziev Abdulqosim of Tajikistan by technical superiority in the quarter-finals. He had opened up a formidable 9-2 lead in the first round. The Haryana grappler took three points in the opening 30 seconds of the second round to take a decisive 12-2 lead.
Bajrang registered another technical superiority verdict, this time by 10-0 against Batmagnai Batchuluun of Mongolia in the semi-finals. The other Indian wrestlers faced disappointment in their respective weight categories with Sandeep Tomar (57kg), Pawan Kumar (86kg) and Mausam Khatri (97kg) failing to reach the podium. Meanwhile, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Lakshya finished first and fifth respectively in the first day's qualification round of the men's trap shooting event at the 18th Asian Games here on Sunday.
Veteran Manavjit scored a total of 72 after three series produced 25, 23 and 24 to top the day's competition. His compatriot, 19-year-old Lakshay scored 22, 25, 24 for a total of 71 out of a possible 75 to be fifth. Second on the list was Pakistan's Aamir Iqbal, who scored a 72 (24,25, 23), while Philippines' Hagen Alexander Topacio was third with 71 points. Thailand's Savate Sresthaporn was fourth with 71 points.
There was good news for India elsewhere. The rowers continued their improvement on the international stage, reaching the finals of the men's and women's double sculls apart from men's pairs. Prakash and Sawarn topped the heat 2 with a time of 7 minutes and 10.26 seconds. In the women's doubles sculls, Sayali and Pooja finished sixth in Heat 1 with a timing of 8:50.48 minutes. They were sixth in the overall standings. In the men's pairs event, Malkeet and Gurinder finished third in Heat 1 with a timing of 7:37.20 minutes. The Indian pair was third in the overall standings.
Olympian Dattu Bhokanal in men's single sculls and the men's lightweight fours team will compete in the repechage rounds of their respective categories. Bhokanal was second in Heat 1 with a time of 8:09.21. Dattu was fourth in the overall standings. The lightweight fours team comprising Bhopal Singh, Jagbir Singh, Tejash Hanamant Shinde and Pranay Ganesh Naukarkar finished second in Heat 2 with 7:19.47 minutes.
India was fourth in the overall standings in the event, with China and Indonesia having made it to the final by winning the two heats. As expected, India dominated the kabaddi competition with both the men's and women's teams started their respective campaigns on a positive note. In the first match of the day, Indian men out-muscled Bangladesh 50-21 and then overpowered Sri Lanka 44-28 in the second match. India will now face South Korea on Monday
The Indian women, on the other hand, also had a successful outing, crushing Japan 43-12 to underline their superiority in the competition. It was one-way traffic from the word go as the Indian women dominated the proceedings. They will now face Thailand.
In another Group B tie, Iran women's team beat Korea 46-20 while Chinese Taipei got the better of Bangladesh 43-28. Thailand breezed past Sri Lanka 41-15 in Group A. The Indian women's hockey team began their campaign in an emphatic fashion, flooring hosts Indonesia 8-0 in a Pool A contest. Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur scored a hat-trick in the 17th, 22nd and 57th minutes, while striker Vandana Katariya (14th and 28th), Navneet Kaur (25th and 50th) and Udita (nint) scored the other goals for India.
For Indonesia, it was a tough debut in the Asian Games for their women's hockey team as it came up against the continent's top-ranked side which had claimed a bronze medal at the 2014 Asiad. In swimming Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash finished fifth and seventh in the men's 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke final events respectively.
Starting in lane 3, Prakash clocked 1:57.75 seconds in 200m butterfly final. Japan's Seto Daiya won the title with a timing of 1:54.53 seconds.Meanwhile, in the 100m backstroke event, Nataraj clocked 56.19 seconds. Prakash had earlier qualified as the third fastest swimmer in the heats.
His qualification time of 55.86 was the slowest among the eight finalists. Earlier Nataraj started in lane six and clocked 55.86 seconds in the heat while compatriot Arvind Mani finished second but failed to qualify to the next round. Prakash qualified for the final with a time of 1:58.12 seconds.
Prakash was 0.06 seconds behind Nao Horomura of Japan who led the pack. Saurabh Sangvekar, the other Indian in the fray, crashed out in the 200m freestyle event, clocking 1:54.87 seconds. In badminton, Kidambi Srikanth, H.S. Prannoy and B. Sai Praneeth won as India crushed Maldives 3-0 to enter the quarter-finals of the men's team event.
In the mixed doubles tennis competition, India's Divij Sharan and Karman Kaur Thandi defeated Phillippines' Alberto Lim and Marian Jade Capadocia 6-4, 6-4 to enter the pre-quarterfinals.
India's sepaktakraw team lost to South Korea 0-3 in a Group A match of the women's Regu competition. Anjul Namdeo and M. Suraj Singh finished fifth and 10th respectively in the men's changquan wushu event. Santosh Kumar advanced to the pre-quarterfinals of the men's sanda 56-kg wushu competition, while Pardeep Kumar entered the quarterfinals in the 70-kg category.
Yumnam Sanathoi Devi perished in the pre-quarterfinals of the women's sanda 56-kg category. The Indian women's handball team went down to their Chinese counterparts in a Group A match. In their third match of the Handball preliminary round, the Indian women suffered a 21-36 defeat and are now almost out of the competition.
The Indians had earlier lost to Kazakhstan 19-36 in their first game before going down 18-45 to South Korea. Maninder Kaur (10) was the top-scorer for India but it was not enough as India were outclassed 9-19 in the first period and then 12-17 in the second period. India will now face North Korea in their final outing on August 21.