With the spectacular Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games marking its two-year anniversary today, Asia’s best athletes went down the memory lane and shared their best memories from the Games that had witnessed several records fall and set new marks.
From the record number of around 3000 athletes’ participation to unified Korea team marching for the first time at a Para-sport event, history was made on several occasion during the Games. For athletes as well, the Games were memorable in many aspects.
Two years now as they look back to the Games, they admitted that special memories from the competition, Games Village, with the fans and volunteers etc. were revived, while some others remembered those career-defining moments in Indonesia.
Among those star performers at Indonesia 2018 was para javelin thrower Sandeep Chaudhary, who opened India’s medal account at the APG 2018 with a world record winning performance in men’s javelin F42-44/61-64 category. For Chaudhary, who claimed the top honours with a throw of 60.01m, the medal in Jakarta was his first biggest moment in his career.
“After missing out of medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and 2017 London World Para Athletics Championships, the Asian Para Games gold with the world record show was my first biggest achievement. I also feel very proud to bring home the first gold medal for India at the Asian Para Games in Javelin event. Having said that, the medal has brought bigger responsibility to work hard, win medal at the Paralympics and inspire others. And I am working hard towards my dream,” the 23-year-old, who went on become a world champion in Dubai 2019.
Similarly, for Pakistan’s Paralympic medallist athlete Haider Ali, the 2018 Indonesia Games will remain “special” as he won all the three medals for his nation including a double gold in men’s discus and javelin F37 events.
“It was one of my career best performances and the Asian Para Games 2018 medals will stay among top of my list of achievements. I also became world no. 1 in discus F37 with the medal, which was also with an Asian record. The feeling was special as Pakistan anthem was played and flag being raised at the medal ceremony.
“These moments inspire me every day as I prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Games. I want to make Pakistan proud again with a medal at the Paralympics.”
Indonesia’s local favourite para powerlifter Ni Nengah Widiasih said it was a “unforgettable” moment to stand on the podium in front of home fans. Widiasih had clinched a silver medal in the women’s 41 kg category at the Games.
“It was a memorable moment because for the first time competing in my country, I could live up to the hopes and expectations of my fans. Every time I remember and look back to the Games, it gives the feeling of becoming stronger and greater in future competitions. And I am continuing to train harder to be a champion again,” said the Bali-born lifter.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Para badminton star Daniel Chan Ho Yuen achieved his “curse-breaking moment” with the silver medal in WH2 men’s singles event in Indonesia 2018. This was Chan Ho Yuen’s first medal in three Asian Para Games.
Chan Ho Yuen, who went down to his Korean nemesis Kim Jungjun, said he even was left with tears after losing the final only to find Jungjun comforting him.
“In my para badminton life, I have never missed a medal in any competition. I have got 63 international medals for Hong Kong so far. The only competition that I didn’t win any medals are the Asian Para Games 2010 in Guangzhou and 2014 Incheon.
“So finally, the Indonesia 2018 helped me break my curse and give me my moment of glory – a silver medal.”
Reigning world champion Manasi Joshi, who settled for the women’s SL3 bronze at the APG 2018, went on to thank the organizers and volunteers yet again for the hospitability and beautiful memories in Indonesia.
“APG 2018 is always going to be in my heart etched with love. From the Istora stadium being jam packed with people shouting, screaming and supporting their favorite player, to dancing and singing on Bollywood tunes with the volunteers of APG 2018 in the Games village, it was a very well organized and well-prepared event. I am following a few volunteers who made sure to see my match even though they were assigned different stadiums and gifted me with goodies when I left. Indonesia memories will be in my heart forever.”
‘Turning Point of career’
Much like Joshi, India’s gold medallist archer Harvinder Singh praised the volunteers support at the Indonesia Games and described the event as the “turning point of his career”.
“My experience at the Indonesia 2018 was great. The atmosphere was world class and especially the volunteers who were very helpful. I also went on to win India’s first archery gold at Asian Para Games, which will always remain special. Moreover, it was a big learning experience as I won it in one of the tough times of my life. So, that moment always inspires me to overcome hurdles in future,” said Singh who is now preparing for Tokyo 2020 Games riding on APG 2018 success.
Singh’s fellow club thrower Ekta Bhyan from India was a bit emotional while recollecting memories from her first Asian Para Games.
“The memory of winning the gold medal in Jakarta is one of the closest memories to my heart. It was a great boost up to work harder for Paralympics. Being quadriplegic disabled (most severe disability in para sports), it has brought a lot motivation and confidence to win accolades for the country at international platform.”
UAE’s rifle shooting star Abdullah Sultan Alaryani, who took a gold and silver at the APG 2018, said the competitions were tough in Indonesia. “I am proud and happy I could overcome it and win two medals for UAE.”
Para athlete Sara Al-Senaani added that her APG 2018 campaign will always motivate her to aim for big strides in future. “Before going to Jakarta, I used to tell my physiotherapist that I would like to achieve 5.30m distance, and I worked on my target with my coach. Alhamdulilla, I managed to achieve the third place with a distance of 5.28 which was even better than my Rio result.”