Asian Games: 50 year age gap between India’s oldest and youngest medallists in historic campaign – Times of India

HANGZHOU: Age is just a number in sports. It may sound cliched, but played out factually at the 19th Asian Games, where India’s youngest and the oldest medallists are separated by a whopping 50 year age gap between them.
Roller skating bronze medallist Sanjana Bathula and double squash bronze medallist Anahat Singh, both 15, have an age difference of just three months. But compared to 65-year-old Bridge silver medallist Jaggy Shivdasani, there is a full generation’s gap between the trio. However, the pedestal they share has the same title — Asian Games medallists.
India finished its Asian Games campaign with a record haul of 107 medals (28 gold, 38 silver, 41 bronze) to finish fourth (on gold-medal count), improving on its 2018 tally of 70 medals, which included 16 gold.
It was the second Asian Games medal for Shivdasani, who was also part of the 2018 bronze medal men’s team.
“You can’t be too disappointed,” Shivdasani said after the men’s team lost to Hong Kong in the final. “At the start, if you had told me we would get a silver medal, I would have taken it and said ‘let’s not play’,”
Bridge was included in the Asian Games roster in 2018, but the 1958-born Shivdasani became a noted player when he won the Holkar Trophy in 1976, followed by a series of national titles.
He was the first non-North American to win the Spingold Knockout Teams in 1987, which includes teams that have players from different countries.
Shivdasani brought his age into context when he was asked if Bridge will become an Olympic discipline.
“I don’t know if I will still be around, but I hope it does become an Olympic sport. That would be great,” he said.
Shivdasani’s teammates on the podium are also from his era and include Ajay Khare (age 64), Raju Tolani (62), Rajeshwar Tewari (60), Sandeep Thakral (49) and Sumit Mukherjee (49).
Anahat, or Annie to her teammates, is in the same boat as all other Indian squash players far as squash’s hopes of becoming an Olympic discipline are concerned. But the 10th-standard, 15 year old student of Delhi’s British School has age on her side to possibly live the Olympic dream.
In the same team as India’s squash greats like Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa, Anahat was not even born when Dipika and Joshna became pro on the circuit. Tanvi Khanna was the fourth member of the team.

Lucky to have won Asiad medal at such a young age: Debutant squash player Anahat Singh

The opportunity to share the stage with them and stand on the Asian Games podium as the women’s team bronze medallists is not something many 15-year-old players achieve.
“It was just an amazing experience playing the Asian Games, let alone getting a medal,” said Anahat after winning the women’s team bronze.
She went on to add the mixed doubles bronze to her kitty in her maiden Asian Games appearance, partnering Abhay Singh.
“It’s always an athlete’s dream to win a medal at the big Games, and I am really lucky to have won it at such a young age at my first Asian Games,” said Anahat.
After playing badminton initially, Anahat picked up the sport watching her elder sister play and accompanying her to tournaments.
The Indian women’s team lost to Hong Kong in the semis to stand a spot below on the podium in Hangzhou, compared to their silver-medal finish at Jakarta 2018.
“There was no disappointment. We still won a medal, but I feel we could have done a little better,” said Anahat, who has set big targets for herself as a professional squash player.
“It will be great if I can become the world champion or world No. 1.”
15 year old Sanjana is the youngest of the Indian medallists in this edition of the Games. She was part of the women’s relay team that won bronze in roller skating. However, it was her teammates Karthika Jagadeeswaran, Heeral Sadhu and Aarathy Kasturi Raj who competed to clock 4:34.861 and finish third.
Chinese Taipei won gold with a timing of 4:19.447, while South Korea (4:21.146) won silver.

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