Asian Games: Set to cross 100-medal mark, India eyes Paris Olympics

The 100th medal came with Sonam Malik's bronze in wrestling, Kiran Bishnoi and Aman Sherawat adding to the tally, and a silver in bridge

The Indian team celebrates after pumping in a goal during its 5-1 rout of Japan in the men's hockey final (photo: Hockey India)
The Indian team celebrates after pumping in a goal during its 5-1 rout of Japan in the men's hockey final (photo: Hockey India)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

A promotional tagline by India's official broadcasters ahead of the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou said 'ab ki baar, 100 paar (this time, it will be 100-plus)', obviously mimicking a certain political party’s rhetoric. When, after the first week’s action, India’s tally stood at 35 medals, that tagline sounded hollow, and the challenge was whether India could actually overhaul the 70-medal mark of 2018. 

However, a medal rush set in with the track and field events, where India finished with a whopping 29 medals (while shooting accounted for 22), as athletes from unexpected quarters piled on the tally. With only the final day’s competition to go, India’s guaranteed medals tally is a magical 102.

While 95 of those medals are already in hand after the men’s hockey team swept to a gold with a 5-1 rout of Japan in the last medal event on Friday, seven more medals (irrespective of the metal) are confirmed for Saturday. Incidentally, the hockey gold earned India a direct entry to the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The 100th medal, to be precise, was ensured when Sonam Malik finished with a bronze in wrestling, with Kiran Bishnoi and Aman Sherawat adding to the tally and the bridge team also returning with silver.

The medal count not only sparked early celebrations in the Indian camp, but with less than a year to go for the Olympics, it has also begun fuelling hopes of India crossing the double-digit mark in the ‘greatest show on earth.’ Before now, the nation's best-ever haul has been seven medals from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  

Addressing an assembly of Indian medal-winners and delegates, iconic athlete and Indian Olympic Association president PT Usha said on Thursday: ‘’Success is not a destination but a journey. And while the Asian Games 2022 is a significant milestone, the ultimate test awaits us in 2024, the Paris Olympic Games. The world will be watching and expectations will be high. The heartbeats of a billion people will be in sync, cheering for our athletes as they strive for glory on the world's grandest stage.’’ 

Inserting a reality check, Usha added: ‘’There is a saying in sports — you are only as good as your last performance. While we have done spectacularly well in the Asian Games, the Olympic challenge demands even more. We need to harness this momentum, focus on rigorous training, state-of-the-art facilities, and the best support systems to ensure that our athletes are not just participants, but contenders for the highest honour in global sports.’’ 

Medals breakdown 

India's current official medal count: 95  

Guaranteed medals with final rounds to go on Saturday: 7 

Compound Archery, 3: Abhishek Verma will face Ojas Pravin Deotale in the final of the men’s individual event on Saturday, so India is ensured of both gold and silver. Jyothi Surekha Vennam, meanwhile, will be in the women’s individual final and will win gold or silver. 

Kabaddi, 2: Both Indian men and women have qualified for the finals. 

Badminton, 1: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty stand to win at least a bronze medal. 

Men's cricket, 1: Ruturaj Gaikwad's team qualified for the final with a comfortable nine-wicket win over Bangladesh in the semi-final, as they chased down the target of 97 with more than 10 overs remaining. They will take on Afghanistan in the final. 

India’s medal count after guaranteed medals added: 102

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