Athletes from Tamil Nadu have bagged three medals, and Lakshmanan finished third but was disqualified, pointed out Dheeraj Kumar, secretary, Youth Welfare and Sports Development department, adding: “Overall, it was a better performance when compared with the recent international tournaments.”
When asked about the criticism that the sportspersons from the State failed to shine as expected, the official said there indeed was scope for improvement. “But we should also acknowledge the fact that athletes from Tamil Nadu are gradually coming out strongly,” Kumar said.
The budgetary allocation for Sports Development department is the highest under the present government, he said, adding the various schemes that the State has undertaken to identify and nurture talent.
“Under Elite Sports persons Scheme, best performers at the international level would receive Rs 25 lakh per year for preparation and assistance. At present, nine players, including international stars like Achanta Sharath Kamal, are covered under the scheme. They will definitely win medals in the international tournaments,” said Kumar. Champions Development Scheme is another important programme of the State government, under which best players from the junior and sub-junior levels, who excel in national championships, would be given an assistance of Rs 2 lakh per year to excel in international tournaments, he added.
In addition, the government also provides cash incentives for players who bag medals in top international tournaments, he said.
Hits and misses:
Chanta Sharath Kamal: The ace paddler was an integral part of the six-man squad that won a historic bronze in the men’s table tennis event. He then combined with rising star Manika Batra in the mixed doubles to collect another bronze medal, completing a double. The men’s team’s third place finish gave the country its first medal in the sport, which was introduced as part of the Games program back in 1958. India defeated better-placed Japan in the quarter-finals, to assure itself of a medal.
Sunayna Kuruvilla: Sunayna was a regular in the women’s team that finished second best to Hong Kong in the squash team event. When Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa lost their matches in the last league tie against Hong Kong, the 19-year-old registered a stunning win over Tze Lok Ho. She saved three match balls en route to her victory. But, in the final she couldn’t get the better of Lok Ho as India bagged its second consecutive silver medal.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran: Of the two TN players who featured for India in the tennis men’s singles at the 18th Asian Games, Prajnesh Gunneswaran pocketed a bronze after going down to higher-ranked Denis Istomin in the semi-finals. The Uzbek won the last four clash convincingly, with a scoreline of 6-2, 6-2. Prajnesh gave the US Open a miss and decided to represent the country, becoming only the sixth Indian to clinch a medal in the singles competition.
The ones who Disappointed
G Lakshmanan: Long distance runner Lakshmanan was unlucky not to make it to the podium in the men’s 10,000m despite finishing third. The Pudukottai-based lad was disqualified under IAAF Rule 163.3b as he had stepped inside the curb marking. Had he not been punished for his infringement, he would have ended the country’s 20-year long wait for a medal in that competition. Though Lakshmanan couldn’t bring home a medal, he was rewarded with a cash award of Rs 10 lakh.
Sathish Sivalingam: A lot was expected of the weightlifter, who clinched gold in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast earlier this year. He had also won the yellow metal in the 2014 edition of the quadrennial event. But, the 26-year-old succumbed to an injury at the Asiad during the men’s 77kg competition. He endured a thigh injury during a failed attempt of 178kg in clean and jerk. The national champion finally had to settle for a total lift of 314kg (144kg+170kg), finishing a disappointing 10th.
Ramkumar Ramanathan: Ramkumar, India’s top-ranked singles tennis player at the Asiad, bowed out in the Round of 16 after losing to Uzbekistan’s Karimov Jubarek. He lost the encounter 6-3 4-6 3-6. Ramkumar, who partnered Sumit Nagal in the men’s doubles, crashed out in the quarter-finals, failing to win at least a medal. “Ram was a big disappointment in the singles and I expected a lot from the second seed,” said coach Zeeshan Ali.