10 memorable stories from 18th Asian Games
They said at 28, Manjit Singh was done, washed up, through with top-class running. ONGC had not renewed his contract, telling him he was too old to do anything outstanding in sport. Jinson Johnson had emerged as India’s No. 1. But in the 800m final, Manjit ran the best race of his life, with a kick in the final 80m that took him beyond everyone. Now the Jind runner can finally see his son, born when he was away training. Two years ago, Vinesh Phogat suffered a terrible knee injury in the Olympics during her bout against China’s Sun Yanan. Her heart was pounding when she faced Sun again in Jakarta, but she overcame her nervousness to easily win the bout. In the final was Yuki Irie of Japan. No Indian woman had beaten a Japanese wrestler at the Asiad — but Vinesh did it, becoming the first Indian woman to win a wrestling gold at the Games.
Swapna lives a dream
The 21-year-old, her face bandaged to relieve pain from an abscessed tooth, six toes in each foot squeezed into tight shoes, rose to the occasion, with three personal best and two season’s best performances in the seven events over two days. Her coach later said even as a child, “she had a mental toughness that poor kids have”. She sure is tough, beating pain to win heptathlon gold, earning the right to be called Asia’s best woman athlete.
Women’s 4×400 gold
Hima Das, MR Poovamma, Sarita Gayakwad, Vismaya VK
How to beat Bahrain’s top-class racers Edidiong Odiong and Salwa Eid Naser? The Indians reversed the plans — they started the 4x400m final with their best two runners, and Hima and Poovamma thus opened up a huge lead over the Bahrain runners. Saritaben and Vismaya then managed to hold off Edidiong and Salwa to win gold — India’s fifth consecutive Asiad gold in the event.