In many ways the competition in the Asian Games is tougher than at the Commonwealth Games and so full marks again to the sportsmen and women who kept giving Indian sports lovers some good news every day. Based on what one saw at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year one expected an impressive showing by the Indian contingent at Jakarta and it must be said that they performed well above expectations. The twin triumphs seem to suggest that finally there seems to be in place some system and infrastructure to produce champions whereas in the past the occasional champions were a product of their own hard work and sacrifices. The encouraging results in both the events also augurs well for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Following what happened in 2010 and 2014 when the Indians won a total of 65 and 57 medals respectively hopes were justifiably high on the eve of the Jakarta Games. And if the bottom line is the medals tally then there is much to rejoice at the performance of the Indian contingent.The fact that it is an all time record illustrates that things are looking up for India in the sporting arena. There were a total of 69 medals with the breakup being 15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze and the overall eighth place meant that India had again finished in the top ten.

What is particularly heartening about the Indian showing in Jakarta is the fact that many of the medal winning sportsmen and women came from humble backgrounds and they had to really struggle first to make it to the Indian squad and then win a medal after facing various kinds of hurdles and obstacles. This underlined a stout heart and a hunger for success that is quite unparalleled. Also many of them came from far flung regions in the country and not from the big cities which have generally produced the greats. And again the medals were distributed among the men and women and along various disciplines some of which have not been traditional strongholds of Indian sport. But perhaps the most heartening aspect that many of the medal winners were young – teenagers even – and this is what makes one feel that the future of Indian sport is very bright. It must also not be forgotten that in a couple of cases the victories were notched up against Olympic champions proving that Indians are not overawed by the reputation of the opponents. . .

Indeed there were so many heroes and heroines at Jakarta that one does not where to begin. But if one starts with the glamour event of any such meet, track and field, then it has to be javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, middle distance runners Jinson Johnson and Manjit Singh, heptathlete Swapna Burman and triple jumper Arpinder Singh. But of course there were gold medal winners in boxing, wrestling, tennis, shooting, rowing and most surprisingly bridge.

But there were other surprises too notably in table tennis. Asia being the world’s powerhouse in the sport India had not made any headway – until Jakarta when the squad came up with two bronze medals in the men’s team event and the mixed doubles.

Then of course there were results that went along predictable lines like PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal picking up a silver and a bronze in badminton and the squash trio of Sourav Ghoshal, Deepika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa picking up bronze medals in the individual categories besides a silver in the women’s team event. Hima Das winning a silver in the women’s 400 metres, Dutee Chand winning a silver in the women’s 100 metres and Sudha Singh winning a silver in the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase were also along expected lines. There were slight disappointments too in store with the men’s hockey team having to settle for bronze and the women’s team a silver and the loss of what appeared to be a certain gold medal in kabaddi with the women picking up the silver and the men taking the bronze being toppled from the pedestal for the first time. .

What is of paramount importance now is to build upon the gains the sportsmen and women have come up with in Australia and Indonesia so that the competitors continue to produce notable results at international meets culminating at Tokyo in 2020.