Neeraj Chopra - Naib Subedar in the army, won gold medal in the javelin throw with relative ease

The defence services have played a prominent role in training these sports-persons

NEW DELHI: The Indian defence forces are shining at the 2018 Asian Games, having won 14 medals, including four gold, five silver and five bronze medals so far.

Indian Army has won the highest number of medals among the three services. This is in events such as javelin, rowing, equestrian, Kabbadi, 800 metre and 1500 metre events. The Indian Air Force has won medals in 10m Air Rifle and Wushu events. The navy has won in men’s shot put and the men’s 400 metre.

Sixty six army sports-persons have participated in 18 events in this year’s Asian Games. Fourteen of them have won nine medals, including four in individual events and five in team events. Neeraj Chopra, a Naib Subedar in the army, won a gold medal in the javelin throw. Jinson Johnson, also a Naib Subedar, won a silver in 800 metre and on Thursday won the 1500 metre gold medal. Arokia Rajiv, a Subedar, won a silver medal as a member of the Indian athletics mixed 4X400 metre relay team. Dushyant Chauhan, a Naib Subedar, won a bronze in the men’s lightweight single sculls. The Indian men’s Kabbadi team, comprising of army Havildar Monu Goyat, won a bronze medal after losing to Iran in the semifinals.

India’s Deepak Kumar, a Sergeant in the IAF, won a silver in the men’s 10 metre Air Rifle individual event. Ravi Kumar, a Junior Warrant Officer in the IAF, won a bronze in the 10 metre Air Rifle Mixed Team event with Apurvi Chandela. Sergeant Santosh Kumar won a bronze in the Wushu event after losing his semifinal bout.

Meanwhile, navy personnel Tejinder Pal Singh Toor bagged a gold medal in men’s shot put, setting a new record at 20.75 m during his fifth attempt, surpassing the six year old national record of 20.69 m and shattering the Asian Games record. Muhammed Anas won a silver in the men’s 400 metre.

The defence services have played a prominent role in training these sports-persons. In 2001, as part of ‘Mission Olympics’ the army took up the task of training talented sports-persons in 11 sports disciplines such as rowing, archery, athletics and boxing at the international level, especially Olympic Games. Its Mission Olympic Wing was established with five sports nodes such as the Army Sports Institute in Pune and Army Equestrian Node in Meerut.

There are different ways of entering the program. In the first category, the army searches for boys aged between 10 and 16 years with a sporting talent, who can be enrolled in the ‘Boys Sports Company’ (BSC). The BSC not only provides sports training, but a cadet here also does his schooling and is slated for enrolment in the army after qualifying the mandatory tests. Meanwhile, there is also the army’s direct entry scheme as Havildar and Naib Subedar. Here boys of the age group of 16 to 18 years with recognisable achievement at the national and international level are enrolled in the army against sports vacancy. They are also made to undergo military training.

In the third category, the army also identifies its own personnel who show potential in sports and which can be further nurtured.

The navy and IAF also have their own categories of training sports persons.