The News Minute| October 1, 2014| 10.00 pm IST
M.C. Mary Kom punched her way to India's first women's Asiad boxing gold and Tintu Luka won silver in the women's 800m final but pugilist L. Sarita Devi's refusal to accept the bronze left a sour taste at the Asian Games here Wednesday.
India also bagged two more bronze medals - javelin thrower Annu Rani and the women's hockey team - that took the country's tally to 50. But India dropped two places to the 11th spot while China continue to lead the table with 294 medals followed by South Korea (189) and Japan (161).
Mary, a five-time World Champion, defeated Kazakhstan's Zhaina Shekerbekova 2-0 in the flyweight (48-51kg) final at the Seonhak Gymnasium. The 31-year-old Indian took some time to be at her attacking best and got just 27 points in the first round.
Backed by a boisterous Indian crowd, Mary Kom, a mother of three and police officer in India's northeastern state of Manipur, banked upon her experience and mixed aggression with caution to counter the speed of her 25-year-old opponent.
Mary Kom, a bronze medallist from the 2012 London Olympics, won the second round 29-28.
The Indian boxer kept her intensity up in the third round as well and while the Kazakh girl looked physically stronger, her jabs and punches lacked accuracy that helped the Indian to take the third round 30-27.
In the fourth round, Mary Kom, multiple-time Asian Championships gold medallist, looked more confident and landed heavy blows on Shekerbekova to gain another 30-27 verdict, which facilitated her historic win.
With this win, Mary Kom, who took some time off the ring after the London Olympics due to the birth of her third child, completed her comeback and also gave a fitting reply to Indian officials who had dropped her name from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August.
But what left a sour taste among the spectators at the Seonhak Gymnasium was when Sarita refused to wear her bronze medal and left it at the podium protesting her controversial defeat to South Korean Jina Park in the semifinals.
A day after India's protest was rejected, an inconsolable Sarita, accepted the medal after much persuasion but refused to wear it round her neck. Later she left the medal at the podium as the spectators at the Seonhak Gymnasium looked on stunned. The medal is now in the custody of the organisers with Sarita staring at a possible ban from the AIBA international body.
Sarita was consoled by fellow bronze medallist Vietnam's Thi Duyen Luu but the Indian handed over her medal to Park before giving her a hug and left the ceremony. A visibly rattled Park also left the medal on the podium before making her exit.
Later in the day, the track and field contingent brought back some cheer to the Indian camp. Tintu narrowly lost out on a gold medal and had to settle for the silver in the women's 800m final while Annu Rani bagged a surprise bronze in women's javelin throw.
However, the biggest disappointment of the day at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium was Ashwini Akkunji, who failed to defend her women's 400 metres hurdles title as she finished fourth. Ashwini, who had won gold in the 400m hurdles and 4X400m relay four years ago at Guangzhou, could not impress at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium as she clocked 57.52 seconds to complete the lap.
It was once again a case of so near and yet so far for Tintu who, despite leading in most of the women's 800 metres final race, was overtaken by Kazakhstan's Margarita Mukasheva in the last stages. Margarita set a new Asian Games record of 1: 59.02 seconds to take gold while China's Zhao Jing won the bronze in 1:59.48 secs.
Tintu timed her season's best of 1:59.19 but ran out of steam in the last 50m to let the gold slip away through her fingers. The P.T. Usha protege had also suffered a similar fate four years ago at Guangzhou when she led the pack right from the start but could not keep pace in the last 50m and finished third. The other Indian in the fray, Sushma Devi also clocked her personal best of 2:01.92 but came fourth.
In women's javelin, Annu surprised the field by winning the bronze. China's Zhang Li took the gold, setting a Games Record with a throw of 65.47 metres which came on her sixth and last attempt.
Meanwhile, Li's compatriot Li Lingwei went home with the silver with a best throw of 61.43m, on her fourth attempt at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium.
The Indian women's hockey team also put on a spectacular performance to defeat Japan 2-1 and claim the bronze medal. In a hard-fought playoff, India took an early lead through a successful penalty corner conversion by Jaspreet Kaur in the 23rd minute, following a dry first quarter at the Soenhak Hockey Stadium.
Japan squeezed in their first goal from Shibata Akane's stick in the 41st minute to level the score at 1-1. India‚Äôs craving for more goals bore fruit when Vandana Katariya, in the very next minute, gave a simple finish to a non-possessed ball in the 42nd minute to once again give the 1982 New Delhi champions the lead.