Compared to the Olympics, the Asian Games have been a cakewalk for Bharat. They have shone in nearly every edition since their debut in 1951. But there was a time when the Bharatiya contingent was on the brink of another humiliation after returning empty-handed from the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
In 1990, the Asian Games were held in Beijing, and Bharat faced an unexpected setback. They disappointed everyone by clinching only 22 medals, a significant drop from the 37 medals they had won at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, including five gold medals.
Bharat was perilously close to the ignominy of never having won a single gold medal in any Asian Games. However, the men’s kabaddi team had other plans.
Kabaddi, a traditional Bharatiya sport, gained international recognition for the first time at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 when it was officially exhibited. Although it had been featured as an official demonstration sport in the 1951 and 1982 editions of the Asian Games, both hosted in New Delhi, it was only in 1990 that Kabaddi became an official sport at the Asian Games.
With six teams in total, the tournament followed a round-robin format. Bharat, eager to seize this opportunity, faced little difficulty in defeating all their opponents, topping the table, and ultimately securing the gold medal. The tie-breaker match was played between Pakistan and Bangladesh to determine the other two podium finishers.
The kabaddi players not only spared Bharat from utter disgrace but also initiated an astonishing streak of gold medals that continued unbroken until 2018. It was only at the 2018 Asiad that both the men’s and women’s teams, for the first time, failed to secure a gold medal.
The significance of this 1990 gold medal in Kabaddi goes beyond just a sporting triumph. It symbolizes the resilience and determination of Bharatiya athletes, who refused to accept defeat even when faced with the prospect of an empty medal cabinet.
The 1990 Asian Games were a turning point for Kabaddi in Bharat. The sport had deep roots in the country’s history and culture, but it had struggled to gain international recognition. The inclusion of Kabaddi as an official sport at the Asian Games was a watershed moment, and Bharat was determined to make the most of it.
The men’s kabaddi team, led by their unwavering spirit, not only won the gold but also rekindled the nation’s love for this traditional sport. The victory was celebrated with great fervor across the country, and Kabaddi became a household name.
The success in 1990 was just the beginning of a remarkable journey for Kabaddi in Bharat. The sport continued to grow in popularity, and the nation’s dominance in international competitions became a matter of pride. The consecutive gold medals in Asian Games from 1990 to 2018 showcased the dedication and commitment of the Bharatiya kabaddi players.
However, sports are not always about winning; they also teach valuable lessons in resilience and perseverance. The 2018 Asian Games marked a temporary setback for Kabaddi, with both the men’s and women’s teams failing to secure gold medals. It was a reminder that victory can never be taken for granted, and every win should be cherished.
The 1990 Asian Games in Beijing hold a special place in the history of Bharatiya sports. They were a turning point for Kabaddi, a sport deeply rooted in the nation’s culture. The gold medal won by the men’s kabaddi team not only saved Bharat from the embarrassment of a medal-less Asian Games but also sparked a remarkable streak of success that lasted for nearly three decades.
This victory is a testament to the resilience and determination of Bharatiya athletes who refused to give up, even when faced with adversity. It is a reminder that in the world of sports, success is never guaranteed, and every victory should be celebrated as a testament to hard work and dedication. The story of Kabaddi at the 1990 Asian Games is a true inspiration and a source of pride for the nation.
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