INDIAN trailblazer Neeraj Chopra added Asian Games gold to his Olympic and world titles in javelin on Wednesday (4) as his nation celebrated its biggest medal haul at the continental showpiece in Hangzhou.
India’s first Olympic athletics champion threw 88.88 metres, more than 0.70m further than Budapest where the 25-year-old claimed the country’s first title in track and field.
He was challenged by silver-winning team mate Kishore Jena, who threw a personal best of 87.54m to draw out Chopra’s winning effort at the Hangzhou Olympic stadium.
There was less suspense in the high jump, though, where Qatari great Mutaz Barshim clinched his third Asian Games gold, 13 years after his first in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
The triple world champion, who owns the second highest jump of all-time (2.43 metres), cleared 2.35m before missing all three attempts at 2.37m.
South Korea’s Woo Sang-hyeok was runner-up with a jump of 2.33m.
India surged past their previous record of 70 Asian Games medals from Jakarta five years ago. Archers Ojas Pravin Deotale and Jyothi Surekha Vennam secured the 71st by winning the mixed team compound event.
“We are celebrating our best-ever medal tally, a testament to the unparalleled dedication, grit and sporting spirit of our athletes,” India prime minister Narendra Modi wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The rising Asian power has work to do to catch China, though, with the hosts having sailed past 300 medals and won more than 170 golds.
China’s Li Qian, runner-up in women’s middleweight boxing at the Tokyo Olympics, beat India’s world champion Lovlina Borgohain for the 66-75kg division title.
Li turned the tables on Borgohain who beat the Chinese boxer in the semi-finals on the way to the middleweight world championship in March.
The Games were hit by a second doping case, with Saudi Arabian distance runner Yousef Mohammed Alasiri, who tested positive for darbepoetin, provisionally banned.
Darbepoetin is a re-engineered form of erythropoietin, also known as EPO, a common blood-booster.
Alasiri, 34, was entered in the men’s 5,000 and 10,000m events but did not start either.
China completed a sweep of the race walking events, picking up gold in the mixed team 35km early on Wednesday, with Japan taking silver ahead of bronze-winning India.
Chinese walkers dominated the men’s and women’s individual events, taking gold and silver in each.
Myanmar claimed their first gold of the Games, beating Indonesia for the men’s quadrant title in sepak takraw, the traditional kick volleyball sport popular in Southeast Asia.
Four-times Asian Cup champions Japan ended Hong Kong’s dream run to the semi-finals and will play either South Korea or Uzbekistan for the gold.
Test-playing nation Bangladesh had a huge scare in the cricket in the quarter-finals against Malaysia but a death bowling masterclass by all-rounder Afif Hossain secured a two-run win in the T20 match.
Malaysia needed five runs from the last over but Hossain, who took three wickets, conceded only two, ensuring Bangladesh will meet Games debutants India in the semi-finals.
Afghanistan, who knocked Sri Lanka out with an eight-run win, will meet Pakistan in the other semi-final.