first_imgIndia eye their best ever performance at the 18th Asian Games to be held in Jakarta starting August 18. India have participated in the Asian Games since the start of the event and therefore, this will be India’s 18th appearance.India are participating in 34 sports out of the total 40 disciplines. 543 athletes will be part of the Indian contingent in the twin cities of Jakarta and Palembang. India will not be participating in baseball, football, jet ski, modern pentathlon, rugby sevens and triathlon.India won 57 medals at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea — 11 gold, 9 silver and 37 bronze.Competing against the best in the business, India will be favourites to win medals in wrestling, badminton, shooting, boxing and gymnastics.India at Asian Games 2018: Full squadHere’s a look at India’s top medal contenders at the Asian Games 2018:WRESTLING:SUSHIL KUMAR: Sushil Kumar is returning to Asian Games after a gap of 12 years. He will be confident going into the sporting spectacle after winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia earlier this year. However, a flop show at Tbilisi Grand Prix will put him under pressure to perform. The two-time Olympic medallist would look to show that he still is force to reckon with. Sushil Kumar’s best performance at the Asian Games came in 2006 when he won a bronze (Reuters Photo)BAJRANG PUNIA: Bajrang Punia, a silver medallist at the Incheon edition, is in tremendous form and will be a firm favourite in 65kg freestyle event. The 24-year-old grappler from Haryana has already won three tournaments this year. He began with a gold in Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and followed it up with titles at Tbilisi Grand Prix (Georgia) and Yasar Dogu International (Istanbul).advertisementAsian Games: A brief historyVINESH PHOGAT: Vinesh is competing with lot of vigour after making a comeback from a heart-breaking leg injury, suffered during the Rio Olympic Games. The ease with which she won the CWG gold and then the Grand Prix of Spain in Madrid, Vinesh will also be a strong medal contender in the 50kg.BADMINTON:PV SINDHU: Sindhu is India’s best bet in badminton to win a medal at the Asian Games given her form. A lot rests on the shoulders of Sindhu, settled for a silver medal at the World Championship earlier this month. Having lost four major finals, Sindhu would be keen to break the jinx. PV Sindhu will be among the favourites to win a medal at the Asian Games (Reuters Photo)SAINA NEHWAL: Saina will be among the medal contenders despite her inconsistent form of late. Saina made a superb comeback to prove her credentials as a big match player when she defeated Sindhu in the CWG at Gold Coast.SHOOTING:MANU BHAKER: Manu Bhaker, who won a gold medal at the CWG, will be a strong contender in the 10m air pistol event. No Indian shooter has shown more promise than the Haryana’s 16-year-old. With her gold medal-winning performance at the ISSF World Cup, Manu became the youngest Indian to achieve the feat.India at Asian Games 2018: DisciplinesATHLETICS:HIMA DAS: The rise of the 20-year-old from a village in Assam has been phenomenal in the last few months. After her sixth-place finish at the Gold Coast CWG with a timing of 51.32, she became the first Indian to win a gold at a global IAAF track and field event with a timing of 51.46s in 400m. Also, her CWG timing is better than Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya (51.59), the gold medal winner at 2014 Incheon Games. Hima Das recently created history be becoming the first Indian to win a medal at a Junior ISSF World Championship (Reuters Photo)NEERAJ CHOPRA: The young javelin thrower’s status in the Indian contingent was underlined when he was chosen as the flag-bearer. The 2016 Under-20 world champion has enjoyed a meteoric rise. After winning gold at CWG with a throw of 86.47m, he bettered his personal best by clearing a distance of 87.43 at the IAAF Diamond League in Doha. He has won three gold medals in last four events.SEEMA PUNIA: In the last leg of her career, the 35-year-old discus thrower Seema Punia would look to defend her title and add yet another medal to her tally.TENNIS:ROHAN BOPANNA and DIVIJ SHARAN: With absence of Sania Mirza this Asian Games, veteran tennis player Rohan Bopanna will be India’s best bet to win a medal. However, Bopanna will have to play to his potential and guide his men’s doubles teammate Divij when the two team up to face the best in business in Asia.advertisementBOXING:VIKAS KRISHAN: A winner of two Asian Games medals, Vikas Krishan will be India’s strongest contender for a medal in Jakarta. He has already won a gold this year at the Gold Coast CWG in the 75kg category.SHIVA THAPA: Success has eluded Shiva at multi-disciplinary events and the boxer from Guwahati would be desperate to better his record when he takes the ring in the men’s 60kg category. He has a good record at the Asian Championships to draw confidence from, having claimed three successive medals.SONIA LATHER: The World Championship silver-medallist will lead a three-member Indian women’s team in the absence of MC Mary Kom, who pulled out to focus on the World Championship. Sonia will compete in the 57kg.GYMNASTIC:DIPA KARMAKAR: After missing out on CWG due to a knee injury, Dipa returned to competitions at the World Challenge Cup in Mersin, Turkey and won a gold. Dipa, who finished fourth at the Rio Olympics, is tipped to be India’s best medal hope in Jakarta. Dipa Karmakar will be one of the favourites to win a gold medal at the Asian Games (Reuters Photo)TABLE TENNIS:ACHANTA SHARATH KAMAL: Sharath Kamal surely has the experience and temperament to take the game against the best in the sport of table tennis. Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans are traditionally very strong in the sport and they are all going to be at the Asian Games, making it an uphill task for India to win a medal. However, Sharath Kamal has been in a superb form recently. At the Commonwealth Games, Sharath Kamal won a men’s team gold, men’s singles bronze and a men’s doubles silver with Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. Post CWG, Sharath’s performances recently in South Korea and Australia propelled him to world No.33, making him India’s top men’s singles player once again.MANIKA BATRA: Her gold medal-winning performance at the Gold Coast was arguably the most inspiring performance at 2018 CWG for India. Although the level of competition in Jakarta will be altogether different, the Delhi-player is expected to give a strong fight to her rivals.(With inputs from PTI)last_img

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