It was a commendable effort by the strong Indian contingent of 626 athletes to come up with a decent performance of 64 medals including 14 gold, to be ranked sixth in the Asian Games.

It may be unfair to compare the fare with the rich show in the Commonwealth Games last month when India won 101 medals including 38 gold, to finish second behind Australia.

It is a good sign that India's performance did not slump after such a high, as it had more athletes who could rise to the occasion and deliver the results when the heroes struggled to find another peak so soon.

Glorious exception

Somdev Devvarman was a glorious exception as he followed the Commonwealth Games individual tennis gold, with the singles and doubles gold medals in the Asian Games.

He also became the only Indian athlete to win two gold medals along with A.C. Ashwini who won everyone's heart with the 400m hurdles gold, apart from her role in the relay triumph.

In fact, the biggest Indian athletics squad also acquitted itself honourably with five gold, two silver and four bronze medals. Preeja Sreedharan, Sudha Singh and Joseph Abraham made the athletics buffs happy though many would not have been able to digest the fact that Tintu Luka only won the bronze.

Back to tennis, Sania Mirza played her part well despite ill health, as she and Vishnu Vardhan made the the mixed doubles final apart from playing her firebrand game in singles till she bowed out in the semifinals to take the bronze.

Advani retains gold

Pankaj Advani was one of the rare athletes to defend his gold medal won in billiards in Doha in 2006. In fact, he opened the gold count for India.

The hero of Indian sport for the last two years, the charming Vijender Singh, the World and Olympic medallist, helped India finish on a high by beating the two-time World champion Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan. It was a breakthrough gold for him, after the bronze in Doha.

With Vijender's admirer, the 18-year-old Vikas Krishan making another breakthrough with gold the previous day, 12 years after the last gold medal in boxing in Asiad by Dingko Singh for India, the future of the sport looked bright.

The 13 boxers returned with nine medals, though it was a disappointment that the five-time World champion Mary Kom had to settle for bronze.

The shooters, at the end of a long season, were unable to gather the energy for a final thrust.

Yet, Ronjan Sodhi was brilliant in silencing the Chinese in their backyard with a stupendous fare in double trap when he won by a four-point margin, after making the final four points behind the leader.

Obviously, a collection of one gold, three silver and four bronze medals was no reflection of the true strength of Indian shooting which has been shining consistently on the big stage.

Bajrang Lal Takhar was another classic case of four years of hard work paying dividends as he graduated from the silver in Doha to a memorable gold. The rowers won three other silver medals and a bronze.

Kabaddi double

Kabaddi continued to be the foundation for Indian performance, as it delivered a double gold, though the women's team was given a scare by Iran in the semifinals.

In 1990, India had won a solitary gold medal through kabaddi, in the Asian Games in Beijing.

Virdhawal Khade won the first swimming medal since 1986, after missing another by 0.03 seconds. Ashish Kumar continued to excel in gymnastics though it was a bronze medal in the floor exercise.

Tarundeep Rai winning the individual silver was another breakthrough effort in archery, in which the Indian teams were stopped by the mighty Korea and had to settle for bronze.

Golf and sailing provided precious silver medals, but other sports, to name a few, such as badminton, basketball, table tennis, volleyball and weightlifting drew a blank.

It was disappointment for Indian hockey fans after winning just the bronze medal, but the team was vibrant in defeat and could develop into a strong unit.

The women's team needs to focus on the game and train harder.

Saina's early exit

World No.3 Saina Nehwal's early exit in badminton was a blow, and it showed that she still had to put her game together so as to be able to tackle different situations and varied opponents.

Overall, it was a healthy improvement from the 53 medals won in the last edition, and it was the best collection for India, beating the 57 won in Delhi in 1982, when the team had won 13 gold medals. India had won 15 gold medals in 1951 in the inaugural edition that featured 489 athletes from 11 nations.

The Chinese won 199 gold medals in a total of 416 with a contingent of 960. India had many disciplines that were just making the numbers, as it fielded athletes in 37 disciplines but won medals in only 18 of them.

Wushu and roller sports also made the right impact with medals. But, the wrestlers managed only three bronze medals in the absence of world champion Sushil Kumar. Squash was as good as wrestling with three bronze medals. In Indian sports, the problem is not with the numbers but the lack of quality preparation.

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