When the Far East Games were renamed Asian Games after World War II, it was New Delhi that hosted the first Asian Games in March 1951, with 11 countries and 489 participants. India finished second in the medals tally after Japan, winning 51 medals including 15 gold. China was not one of the 11 nations which played in the first Asian Games. China first participated in the Asian Games at Manila in 1954.
In the 1954 Asian Games held at Manila, Japan again topped the chart but India finished 5th behind even Pakistan, winning a total of just 13 medals including 4 gold. China won 12 medals which included 2 gold. Another four years to Tokyo Asian Games in 1958, India finished 6th behind Pakistan 5th and China 4th.
Fast forward to 9th Asian Games in 1982; India again hosted Asia’s biggest sporting event. New Delhi joined Bangkok (four times) as the only city to host multiple editions of Asian Games. 3411 athletes from 33 countries competed in this Asiad.
These Asian Games saw the beginning of Chinese dominance in the medals tally. While China topped the medals tally, India continued its dismal performance finishing 5th with 57 medals including 13 gold. China won 61 gold medals and a total of 153 medals. Japan had won the maximum number of medals in previous editions of the Games but from now on, China would be the top medal winner in all succeeding Asiads.
In 1990 China hosted Asian Games for the first time. It was the first large-scale international sports event to be held in the People’s Republic of China. China won a record 341 medals in the first Asian Games it hosted, more than double of those it won just eight years ago in 1982. India finished 11th winning 23 medals which included just 1 gold.
After 1990 China has won more than 300 medals in every Asian Games except in 1994 (266) and 1998 (274). In the ongoing Games at Guangzhou it has already won 365 medals till the time this story was being filed. It includes 177 gold, more than two and half times gold medals than the no. 2 on medals tally, Korea (72). India’s free fall in the medals tally continue. As of now, India is at the 11th position with 7 gold medals.
The very scale of the Guangzhou Asian Games compared to the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010, according to those who have witnessed both the games, is simply unbelievable. It is awe and wonder that one feels being in Guangzhou. There is no mismanagement, no leaking roofs, no scandals and blame game and absolutely no confusion and doubt on the part of the Chinese.
Almost 60 years from the first Asian Games and 28 years from 1982, the games continue to be an event where India has struggled to get noticed. India, home for every third Asian, has put up a better show compared to its own earlier performance in the ongoing Asian Games but that’s a pale shadow when compared to even smaller countries like South Korea and Japan. Today China has become a superpower in all forms of games at all level. And if former Pakistan skipper and China’s ‘Ambassador of Cricket’ – Javed Miandad is to be believed, China will soon makes its presence felt in cricket as well.