2022 Asian Games: Indian men’s kabaddi team clinch its 8th gold medal in an unprecedented, controversy-marred final

The Indian contingent has been on a roll at the 2022 Asian Games.


2022 Asian Games: Indian men’s kabaddi team clinch its 8th gold medal in an unprecedented, controversy-marred final

The Indian men's kabaddi team protesting for a point during the final against Iran at 2022 Asian Games. (via MyKhel)

With a little over one minute remaining on the clock, both India and Iran are locked at 28-28 in a mouth-watering gold medal match in the men’s kabaddi final at the 2022 Asian Games, being held in Hangzhou. In comes Indian skipper Pawan Sehrawat for a do-or-die raid and he succumbs to the pressure as Iran takes him out. The referee gives Iran a point and the score now reads 29-28 in favour of the defending champions. Sounds simple right? But what followed next was pure madness and something which will be remembered infamously for years to come.

In his do-or-die raid, Pawan Sehrawat, without touching any defender or claiming a bonus point, went into the gallery and then the Iranian defenders pushed him out for a point. The referee obliged and gave Iran a point, only to be reviewed by India claiming that according to international kabaddi rules, if the raider without touching any defender has entered the gallery and is followed by the defenders of the opposing team, the number of defenders who then touch the raider is the number of points the team raiding gets and all the defenders who went for the raider are ruled out. This rule has been abolished in the Indian Pro Kabaddi League, which states that the raid becomes dead as soon as the raider enters the gallery, which means according to this rule, Pawan is out and Iran gets a point.

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The officiating of this match was poor, to say the least. All referees, judges and even the secretary of the Asian Kabaddi Federation were confused about how to deal with this situation. First, they awarded 4 points to India and 1 to Iran, which the reigning champions protested. Then they gave one each, which the Indians had a problem with. This went on for more than an hour as the match remained suspended, with coaches of both teams ensuring that the decision came in their favour.

Finally, the rulebook of the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) was seen and the decision was made. Referees gave 3 points to India and 1 to Iran, making the scoreline 31-29 in favour of the Indians. With almost a minute remaining, the fate of the contest was sealed with this decision as Iran hardly had any time to make a comeback. The Indians scored a couple of more points and they finally won the contest 33-29, which went for almost 2 hours. The Indian team reclaimed their dominance at the Asian Games after they had to settle for a bronze medal in 2018, having lost to the same opponents in the semifinals back then. However, what happened on the kabaddi mat today was unprecedented and after today’s final, international kabaddi is bound to see amendments in their rules.

Asian Games 2022: Women’s team also captures gold in a nail-biting finish

Since kabaddi was officially included in the Asian Games roster in 1990, it was India’s 8th gold; the only time when the men’s team didn’t reach the top of the podium was in 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia, where they had to settle for the third position. While their final was marred with controversy, the women’s team too was required to play out of their skins in a match that saw their opponents Chinese Taipei match their Indian counterparts point for point in a classic kabaddi encounter, with controversy playing no part in it.

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The Indian women’s kabaddi team celebrate after securing gold at the 2022 Asian Games. (via The Week)

After they played a thrilling tie in their group match, India and Chinese Taipei faced each other again; this time in a high-stakes, gold medal match. Like their male counterparts, the women’s team failed to secure gold last time around, the first time since kabaddi was introduced for women in 2010, as they had lost the final to Iran. This time around, they were resilient enough to go a step further and again establish their supremacy, but in between them and the gold medal was the ever-improving Chinese Taipei team.

It was a match for the ages for all right reasons as India clinched the topsy-turvy encounter with just one point, winning it 26-25. The Taiwanese girls fought hard, but in the end, their inexperience came to haunt them. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant performance from both the teams and a good sign that kabaddi is not any more a one-team dominant sport. The tears of joy from the Indian girls were also proof of how hard they had to work to earn this victory and what this gold medal meant to them after a blip in 2018.

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