For those who are totally off the grid, India’s Vinesh Phogat became the first woman wrestler from the country to win an Asian Games gold medal, last night. 

And a few hours later, a 16-year-old teenager Saurabh Chaudhary got India a gold in men’s 10 metre air pistol.


As the participants look to give India more of such historic moments at the 18th edition of the tournament, let us take a look at 14 most memorable moments for the country in the history of Asian Games. 

The Quint

1. India becomes the first country to host the Asian Games (1951)

In 1913, a small gathering of Asian nations called Far Eastern Championship Games was held with 6 participating nations. But after World War 2, many newly independent nations felt the need for a new tournament and that is when the Asian Games were started. The games were opened by the then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. 


2. Sachin Nag from Bengal wins India its first gold at the Asian Games (1951)

The man who learnt swimming in the river Ganga in Varanasi, won the gold in the men’s 100 metre freestyle swimming- a feat that hasn’t been repeated till date. He also won bronze medals in the 4x100m freestyle relay and the 3x100m medley relay the same year. 


3. India wins gold medals in football (1951 and 1962)

There was a time India was the best Asian country in football. A decade after the formation of the All India Football Federation, India played its first big tournament. It was the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. The players played barefoot against France and even though they lost by a close margin of 2-1, their effort got them an ovation by 17,000 spectators in the stadium.


3 years later, the team managed by Syed Abdul Rahim, won the gold at the Asian Games by defeating Indonesia, Afghanistan and Iran in the quarterfinal, semifinal and the final respectively. They achieved the feat again in 1962 by defeating South Korea 2-1 in the final. 


4. Milkha Singh defeats the fastest man in Asia to win an historic gold (1958)

The said ‘fastest man in Asia’ was Abdul Khaliq from Pakistan and the said gold was Milkha Singh’s first gold for the country before he became the first Indian to get gold at the Commonwealth Games in the very same year

The Olympians

Milkha Singh beat Abdul Khaliq in the 200 metre race to win the gold. Apart from that, he also secured the top spot in the 400 metre race. 


5. Kamaljeet Sandhu becomes the first woman from India to win a gold medal at the Asian Games (1970) 

Hailing from Punjab, the 400 metre sprinter emerged victorious by clocking a time of 57.3 seconds to win the gold. She was awarded the Padma Shri the next year.


6. Sriram Singh becomes the second athlete after Milkha Singh to win gold medals in the same event at two consecutive editions (1974 and 1978) 

He achieved the feat in the 800m race event in Tehran and Bangkok, respectively. Prior to that, he won a silver in the same event in 1970. 

Sportstar Live

7. PT Usha wins 4 golds and 1 silver at the Asian Games in Seoul (1986)

Rising from the heart-crushing 4th place finish in the Summer Olympics of 1984, PT Usha ruled the track in the Asian Games of 1986. She won individual medals in 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 100m with top place finish in the first three. She also won gold in the 4*400m relay race. 

Interestingly, India has won maximum medals in athletics events with 72 gold, 77 silver and 84 bronze in track-and-field events.

The Quint

8. Khajan Singh wins India its first Asian Games swimming medal in 35 years (1986)

He won the silver in 200m butterfly, the category dominated by the Chinese and Japanese players. India has only two silver medals in swimming and his is one of them. 

The Hindu

9. India wins hockey gold after a long wait of 32 years (1998)

India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan in the 1966 Asian Games to win a gold medal but what followed was unfortunate. The team went to 6 finals in next 7 editions, out of which, it lost to Pakistan in 5. 


The medal finally came home in 1998 as India won the final 4-2 in penalty shootout against South Korea. Following the win, captain and top-scorer Dhanraj Pillai said:

A gold from the hockey stands above other medals won, such is the emotion and prestige. As captain and top-scorer, I had chipped in to make our hockey family happy.
Sportstar Live

10. Dingko Singh ends India’s 16-year-long wait to win a gold in boxing (1998)

My name was cleared at the last minute. I was excited with the news even though I did not get the team kit which was given to the other members of the Indian contingent.

This what Singh once said while recalling the Games. He was so dominant in the final that his opponent could not continue beyond the fourth round of the fight.

The Logical Indian

11. Geeth Sethi and Ashok Shandilya win gold in the English billiards doubles in the sport’s debut year at the Asian Games (1998)

In a column for Sportstar Live, Geet wrote:

I have cried only once after a title victory and it was at that victory ceremony in Bangkok when the tiranga was raised and our national anthem was played. Those tears are proof that that was my golden moment.
Sportstar Live

And why not? It was the first time cue sports were played at the Asian Games and the moment was big. What made the win more special was the fact that they came from a 1-2 deficit to eventually win 4-3.

Cue Sports India

12. Jaspal Rana wins 3 gold medals at Asian Games in Doha (2006)

He won gold in 25m center fire pistol, 25m center fire pistol team and 25m standard pistol and a silver in 25m standard pistol team. His three golds made sure that shooting got India the highest number of gold medals in any sport that year. 

The Hindu

13. Mary Kom becomes the first woman from the country to win a gold in boxing (2014)

An absolute legend of the game, Mary Kom became the first Indian woman to clinch the historic gold at the Asian Games in the year 2014. Interestingly, it was Dingko Singh’s gold in 1998 that inspired her and many other people from the area to take up the sport. 

Indian Express

14. Somdev Devvarman creates history to win India its first men’s singles gold in tennis (2010)

After his victory, Somdev said:

It’s something really special. I became very emotional today because there is no bigger honour than to play and win for India. When the flag was raised and the national anthem played, it was an unforgettable moment. 
Times of India

He outperformed a higher ranked Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-2 in the final, before pairing up with Sanam Singh to win the doubles gold medal in the same year. 

The Hindu

India has had a great record at the Asian Games and we are excited to see what this edition will bring with it!