Asian Games 2014: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Updated: 05 October 2014 23:02 IST

India did well to end the Asian Games 2014 at Incheon with 11 gold, 10 silver and 36 bronze medals after a relatively poor start to their campaign. However, it was the Sarita Devi controversy that hogged all the limelight in the India camp.

Asian Games 2014: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Indian athletes wave little national flags at the closing ceremony. © AFP

Jitu Rai may have started the opening day of the 2014 Asian Games with a gold medal for India but the fans' hopes deteriorated quickly when the rest of the shooters disappointed over the next seven days, with many in the country thinking that getting even 10 gold medals at the end would be tough. (Also read: India sign off 'Bollywood style')

However, when India's hockey hero PR Sreejesh combined with Sardar Singh to give the country a historic gold medal after 16 years, a million eyes lit up. The fact that India beat Pakistan in the final made the win even more memorable. (Also read: Indian hockey team returns to heroes' welcome)

Mary Kom also made a million hearts proud after dominating every fight on her way to a boxing gold, having recently become part of folklore after being the subject of a Bollywood biopic portrayed by actress Priyanka Chopra. (Would have retired if I had won gold in London, says Mary Kom)

Yogeshwar Dutt was another big star for India as he gave the country the first wrestling gold medal in the Games, earning the much-deserved tag of 'Locksmith' from foreign journalists, twisting opponents from side to side after trailing in both the semifinal and the final in his 65kg freestyle category.

In the last edition of the Asian Games at Guangzhou in 2010, India finished at the sixth spot with 14 gold medals and a rich haul of 65 medals in all. Some might argue that India's performance in Incheon has been unsatisfactory but the athletes have done well to win medals in some new disciplines--such as compound archery, women's 20km walk and also sailing.

The 'Good'

India won their first wrestling gold in 28 years when London Olympic bronze-medallist Yogeshwar Dutt picked up the men's 65kg freestyle title.

The men's hockey team clinched a historic gold after 16 years, beating arch-rivals and defending champions Pakistan in a penalty shootout to earn a direct entry to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Seema Punia, who won the women's discus, hoped Indian athletes will one day overtake the Chinsese athletes. "I worked really hard to defeat two Chinese for my gold," she said. "It can be done if we train well."

Compound Archery India
The gold-winning Indian men's compound archery team at the Asian Games.

© PTI

Five-time former world women's boxing champion Mary Kom, a 31-year-old mother of three, showed she could still pack a mean punch by winning the 48-51kg category title.

Bindra's 10m air rifle bronze in his last appearance as a full-time shooter after compatriot Jitu Rai had won the 50m pistol title, appeared to lift the mood of the contingent.

Sandeep Sejwal clinched a rare swimming medal for the country, only its third in the pool in the last 28 years, when he took a bronze in the 50m breaststroke.

There was even a bronze each for teenagers Varsha Gautham, 16, and Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan, 17, in yachting.

Archer Rajat Chauhan, whose mother sold her gold ornaments to buy him an imported bow, helped win the men's compound team title against hosts and world champions South Korea.

The 'Bad'

The 2014 edition of the Games were marred by a lot of doping controversies. However, if one athlete personified the good, the bad and the plain ludicrous of the Asian Games in South Korea, it was China's bad boy swimmer Sun Yang. Failed doping tests, ham-fisted bureaucracy and judging scandals all reared their ugly head at the multisport event, the constant trickle of controversy providing a reminder of the fact that for every modern sports hero, a villain of the piece often lurks.

Ruth Jebet
File photo: Bahrain's Ruth Jebet (C) gestures as India's Lalita Shivaji Babar (L) and China's Li Zhenzhu (R) look on at the podium at the medal ceremony on the final of the women's 3,000m steeplechase athletics event during the 17th Asian Games at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium in Incheon on September 27, 2014.

© AFP

In athletics, there was confusion as teenager Ruth Jebet was disqualified from steeplechase gold as she was about to step onto the victory podium, before being reinstated on appeal the following day.

China's gold medal count was at its lowest since Busan 2002, and the team was also rocked by a positive drugs test to three-time hammer champion Zhang Wenxiu.

Perhaps the strangest episode concerned Japanese swimmer Naoya Tomita, who swiped a photographer's $7,500 camera from the Incheon pool deck. (Also read: 'Disgraced' Japanese swimmer lost his mind)

It "happened in a flash, an act of impulse -- like the devil got a hold of him", said chef de mission Tsuyoshi Aoki.

The 'Ugly'

The biggest event in the Games for India was the Sarita Devi controversy. The Indian boxer had broken down when the decision did not go in her favour in her semifinal match vs Jina Park of Korea and felt she had been cheated of a chance to compete for gold. She invited controversy by choosing not to wear the bronze medal at the ceremony but said it was not a pre-planned decision. Sarita later apologised after scorn from the world boxing body because she felt her country should not suffer as a result of her actions. (Also read: Sarita Devi given strong warning)

Sarita Devi 7
Indian boxer Sarita Devi wept during the Asian Games medal ceremony.

© AP

The Philippines and Mongolia, who were also on the end of some questionable decisions, promised to take up the problem with the International Boxing Association.

Away from the Games' successes, doping, sexual harassment, problems with the officiating and even theft hogged the headlines in Incheon. And with swathes of empty seats testament to an indifferent public reaction, the event's legacy stands in question in what is now South Korea's most indebted city.

Two sexual harassment cases in the build-up to the tournament had brought swift condemnation and saw an Iranian football official sent home. Qatar's women's basketball team were at the centre of a storm when they were ordered off the court for not removing their hijab headscarves, which are against rules set by the sport's world body.

(With Inputs from AFP)

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