Asian Games: Indian women bagged gold in kabaddi
Asserting their supremacy in the sport, India trounced Thailand 28-14 to clinch the inaugural women's kabaddi gold medal in the Asian Games in Guangzhou on Friday.
India took control of the game very early with aggressive tackling and dismissed the entire Thai team for a two-point bonus before taking a commanding 17-7 lead at the halfway stage of the one-sided final at the Nansha Gymnasium.
National coach Balwan Singh termed the triumph in the first appearance at the Games as a "good team effort".
"We are proud to have won the gold for the country in a tough competition," he said.
"Our defense was very good. We had studied the rival's game. They were very fast but could not wriggle out of our grasp when making raids into our territory," he said.
Manager Kumar Vijay said the team did not want to take things easy after the nerve-wrecking one-point semi-final victory over Iran.
"Though we were confident of winning the gold, we did not want to take any chances after the close semi-final against Iran on Thursday (which India won by one point)," said Vijay.
"The score may show it was an easy victory but the Thai girls really put up a good resistance," he said.
After conceding a massive first-half lead, the Thai girls tried to make a comeback but the Indians did not allow it to happen with rock-solid defense and better tactical acumen.
The winners added 11 more points to their tally in the second half while keeping their rivals down to just seven to emerge creditable victors.
The slightly built but nimble-footed Thai girls, trained by Indian Ramesh Bhendigiri, were no match for the more powerful raids of India's top attackers Mamatha and Deepika Joseph who were well supported by Tejeswani, Pooja and Manisha.
The Thais were also handicapped by the ankle injury sustained by their top raider and captain Alisa Limsamran in an earlier match.
Indian assistant coach Sunil Dabas said Thursday close shave against Iran was the perfect wake up call for the girls.
"They were determined to win after being really shaken up by Iran. It turned out to be blessing in disguise and was a well-timed wake up call," he said.
Snehal Salunkhe said the Indian girls had played a lot of practice matches with Thailand and the gold was a "dream come true".
"We went out relaxed as we have played practice matches with the Thai team before. They had no weaknesses and played well against Iran and beat them (in league). We are taller, stronger while the Thai team is young," she said.
"Only in my dreams had I thought we could win gold but now it has come true," she added.