From playing field to main press centre - the presence of South Asian countries is clearly visible in Jakarta, but when it comes to winning medals they are conspicuously lagging behind.
Apart from India, who have their share of own disappointments, South Asian countries failed to get any significant result in the meet despite most of them sending big contingents.
Pakistan’s 286-member strong contingent from 35 disciplines could so far win only three bronze medals while Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan were yet to win any medal.
Two of Pakistan’s three bronze medals also came from unexpected events thanks to Javelin thrower Nadeem Arshad and karate player Nargis, a 19-year old girl of Quetta’s prosecuted minority Hazara community.
Pakistan can still make it to the list of gold medal winning countries as they defeated Bangladesh by 5-0 in their last hockey match on Tuesday to qualify for the semi-final as group champions.
The chance is slim for Sri Lanka to win any medal despite some of their athletes qualified for the finals in few athletics events, a discipline that they traditionally dominated in South Asia.
Apart from cricket gold in Incheon four years ago, when they defeated Bangladesh in the semi-final by virtue of coin toss, Sri Lanka’s all other 10 previous gold in Asian Games came from athletics.
In the hope of regaining their past glories, they also sent a big team in Jakarta and participated in as many as 28 disciplines, including canoeing and sailing only to win nothing.
Among the South Asian countries, only India got some notable success, winning nine gold medals,19 silvers and 22 bronzes so far.
But, according to some visiting Indian journalists, the result of the country is far from satisfactory, as they lost in some of the events that they always considered theirs.
Kabaddi led India’s disappointment, where they failed to win even silver this time in men’s event after winning gold always previously.
Iran and South Korea took the gold and silver in men’s kabaddi respectively and to add an insult to India’s woes, Iran also defeated India in women’s kabaddi final to end their monopoly in the game.
India also fared poorly in shooting though they won two gold medals and four silvers in the disciplines. According to Indian media the country was expected to do much better in the discipline, which won their first ever Individual Olympic gold exactly 10 years ago in Beijing.
But where there are some losses, there are some gains as well, as India did well in some disciplines that did not promise much from them.
India exceeded expectations especially in athletics, where they won three gold medals in men’s 800m, shot put and javelin throw and won as many 11 silvers, including one in women’s 100m sprint thanks to Dutee Chand- the first medal for them in the event in 20 years.
India also won their first individual Asian Games medal from badminton in Jakarta and did surprisingly well in unfamiliar discipline equestrian, which earned them two silvers.
Despite winning as many as 50 medals, 16 times more than other South Asian countries combined, the feeling in the Indian camp in Jakarta is mixed.
‘You can say this is any average performance from India. They won something, they also lost something. There is nothing to be overjoyed,’ said Sudipta Ganguly, a Indian journalist covering the Games for Reuters in Jakarta.
The performance of other South Asian countries is also average, only if you ignore medal counts.
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