Hangzhou, Sep 26 (IANS) The equestrian team of Anush Agarwalla, Hriday Chheda, Sudipti Hajela and Divyakriti Singh made history by winning the country’s first-ever gold medal in Team Dressage and the first since 1982 as athletes from little-know and difficult to follow sports hogged the limelight and propelled India ahead on Day 3 of Asian Games medal hunt at Hangzhou on Tuesday.
It was the same team that the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) did not want to send to Hangzhou initially.
The Indian team comprising Sudipti (up on Chinski), Divyakriti (Adrenalin Firfod), Hriday (Chemxpro Emerald) and Anush (on Etro) scored 209.206 percentage points to finish ahead of hosts China, who scored 204.882. Hong Kong China won the bronze medal with a score of 204.852.
HORSE AND RIDERS UNITE FOR VICTORY
This is India’s second-ever medal in the Dressage Team event in the Asian Games after the bronze won by the team of Jitendarjit Singh Ahluwalia, Ghulam Mohammed Khan and Raghubir Singh when the sport made its debut in the 1982 edition held in New Delhi.
Before Hangzhou, India had won 3 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze medals in the Asian Games equestrian competitions. In 2018, India won two silver medals in equestrian, both coming in Eventing with Fouaad Mirza finishing second in the Individual competition and then partnering Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Malik and Jitender Singh to silver in the Team event.
That record is likely to be broken as India is expecting more medals in the next few days. All four have qualified for the Dressage Individual competition and the two best riders will be considered for medals.
The riders stole the show with their stunning performance in an incredible sport and difficult discipline in which both the rider and horse have to show tremendous coordination to complete a pre-determined set of movements in the three paces: walk, trot and canter, and show a smooth transition from one to another.
While the dressage team bagged India’s third gold medal in the 19th Asian Games, India also bagged two medals in sailing, an equally difficult and technical sport that may not capture the eyeballs of routine spectators.
NEHA, EABAD SAIL INTO HISTORY BOOKS
The 17-year-old Neha Thakur and 25-year-old Eabad Ali also made history in sports as they won the first-ever medals for India in the Asian Games in their respective disciplines.
Neha, the daughter of a farmer from Amaltaj village in Dewas district of landlocked Madhya Pradesh, opened India’s account in the sailing competitions held at a sea resort nearly 100km away from Hangzhou, with a silver medal in the Girls’ Dinghy — ILCA4 at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre in Ningbo on Tuesday.
Eabad Ali then made the day more memorable for India as he brought in the bronze medal in the Men’s Windsurfer RS:X – RS event — the country’s first-ever medal in windsurfing.
The two medals on Tuesday, which will be added to India’s tally on Wednesday when the sailing programme comes to an end, seem to have set alight the Yachting Association of India’s hopes for a rich haul in the Hangzhou Asian Games as YAI is expecting at least three more medals on the final day of competitions on Wednesday.
Though medals from equestrian and sailing kept India’s hunt for medals going in Hangzhou, there were a lot of setbacks for the country on Tuesday as India missed the medals in three categories.