New Delhi: From tennis star Rohan Bopanna to hockey legend goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and great table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal, many of India’s best players will bid farewell to the Asian Games in Hangzhou. Sharath and Rohan are performing world class even after crossing forty while 35 year old Sreejesh is still the wall of Indian hockey.
This is also the last Asian Games for veteran wrestler Bajrang Punia, squash star Deepika Pallikal, tennis player Ankita Raina and discus thrower Seema Punia. All of them are medal contenders even at the last stage of their career. Rohan Bopanna: 43 year old Bopanna played Wimbledon semi-finals and US Open final in men’s doubles category this year. He left the Davis Cup yesterday and the men’s doubles will be his last event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Bopanna, who made his debut in the Asian Games twenty-one years ago, is the defending champion. He won the title in 2018 with Divij Sharan. He may land with Yuki Bhambri in Hangzhou. Sharath Kamal: 41 year old table tennis star Sharath Kamal has so far won two medals in the Asian Games. This is his fifth and last tournament. He won three gold medals in the Commonwealth Games last year.
The men’s team had won the bronze medal last time and is a strong contender for the medal this time too. The level of competition in the Asian Games is much tougher than the Commonwealth Games. Sharath had won bronze last time with Manika Batra but this time Manika will compete with G Sathiyan in the Asian Games. Ankita Raina: Ankita Raina, the second Indian female tennis player after Sania Mirza to win a medal in the Asian Games, is also a contender for a medal this time. She can also play in women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
P R Sreejesh: The Wall of Indian Hockey Sreejesh is focusing on one tournament at a time. This is his last Asian Games in which the Indian team aims to qualify directly for next year’s Paris Olympics by winning the gold medal. After playing his first international match at the senior level for India in 2006, he is winning bronze in the Tokyo Olympics after 41 years. Was part of the Indian team. If the Indian team, which won the bronze medal in Jakarta, wants to change the color of the medal, then Sreejesh will play an important role in it.
Deepika Pallikal: This is the fourth and last Asian Games for Deepika, mother of two children. She has won two singles and two team medals in the Asian Games. This time she will play in mixed doubles with Hinder Pal Sandhu. Deepika won two world titles with Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghoshal after the birth of her children. He also won the mixed doubles bronze at the Commonwealth Games.
Bajrang Punia: 29-year-old wrestler Punia will return to the mat for the first time after leading a protest against former Indian Wrestling Federation president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh over alleged sexual harassment. He is the defending champion in the 65 kg category. Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Poonia will participate in the Asian Games for the third time. He won a silver medal in Incheon in 2014.
Seema Punia: 40-year-old Seema won gold and bronze medals in the last two seasons. She could not win a medal in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. The Asian Games is his last chance to stand on the podium.