From Vinesh Phogat to Saurabh Chaudhary, the big Indian names missing at Asian Games


With India returning to multi-sport action a year after their pretty successful Commonwealth Games, the spotlight will fall on a few regulars: those who did well at the Commonwealth Games in 2022, those who created waves in the 2018 Asian Games and maybe even the Tokyo Olympics. But this year at the Hangzhou Asian Games there are a few big Indian names missing from action.

ESPN takes a look at a select few, listing out their recent achievements and the reason(s) behind their absence at the Asiad:

Vinesh Phogat

Commonwealth Games 2022: Gold. Asian Games 2018: Gold

There was major controversy when Vinesh Phogat was given a bye for her Asian Games trials -- it was challenged in the Delhi High Court (who dismissed the complaint) -- but Vinesh herself ended it all by announcing that she was injured; and that she would be undergoing surgery which would keep her out of the sport for a considerable while.

It's been that kind of year for the multiple World Championships medallist, who has spent months on the streets of Delhi protesting against former Wrestling Federation of India president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Trials winner, reigning Asian Championships silver medallist and now a World Championship medallist, Antim Panghal will take her place. This could well mark the passing of the baton from one of India's greatest ever wrestlers to one of the nation's most promising.

Saurabh Chaudhary

Asian Games 2018: Gold

Saurabh Chaudhary was the golden teen of the Jakarta Asiad in 2018 after he beat a world-class field (included Olympic and Worlds medalists) in the 10m air pistol at age 16. He then followed that up with multiple World Cup wins before a disappointing outing at the Tokyo Olympics... and then his international appearances have been sporadic.

Saurabh has since won gold in the 2022 Cairo World Cup; but failed to make appearances in any of the other World Cups. He did seem to find form late on in June this year, winning a national trial, but since the process for selection involved the best average score from across six different trials through the year, Saurabh fell well short of it.

Seigneur Medicott and Fouaad Mirza

Asian Games 2018: 2 x Silver

Medicott and his rider, Fouaad Mirza trotted their way to a historic silver for India in the individual equestrian before coming out again with the team and doing it all over again. The duo won't be able to repeat their heroics after the Equestrian Federation of India did not select Mirza as he "did not achieve Minium Eligibility Requirement) and rejected his request for a direct entry.

Just last month, the duo were winning accolades elsewhere: a silver in the CCIO4 Nations Cup in Belgium. He finished just 0.4 penalties behind Olympic Gold Medalist Julia Krajewski (on Nickel 21).

Hima Das

Asian Games 2018: 2 x Gold, 1 x silver

A revelation at the Jakarta Games where she won golds in the women's and mixed 4x400m relay and silver in the individual 400m, and was proclaimed the poster-girl for Indian track, Hima Das is now no longer a one-lapper. In fact, she last ran a one-lap race back in April 2019, where she pulled out halfway through because of a lower back injury.

It's that injury that's been cited as the reason behind her shifting focus to the 200m: a distance where she's not come close to replicating the success she had with the 400m. She's been plagued by injuries -- including a recent hamstring one -- and things haven't clicked ever since the shift of distance.

Ravi Kumar Dahiya

Commonwealth Games 2022: Gold. Reigning Olympic silver medalist

In what was a pretty massive upset, Ravi lost 20-8 to young Maharashtra wrestler Atish Todkar early on. The final was won by Aman Sehrawat, the reigning Asian champion, and he'll now represent India in the men's 57kg in Ravi's stead.

The loss of a reigning Olympic silver medalist and CWG gold winner to someone else speaks highly of the bench strength in Indian wrestling in the 57 kg category; but what should temper the thought is that Ravi was coming back from suffering ACL and MCL injuries in his right knee earlier in the year year.

Rani Rampal

Captain, India hockey team: Fourth place at Asian Games 2018 and the Tokyo Olympics

India's greatest ever women's hockey player has gone from instrumental heartbeat of the team to a complete outcast. After starring in India's run to fourth in both Tokyo and Jakarta, she's barely featured for the team and now finds herself wondering why she's not being picked at all. What makes it even more curious is her form domestically: She helped Haryana to gold in the 2022 National Games (where all the big guns participated), while also finishing the tournament's top scorer.

Recently announced as the coach of the soon-to-be-formed U17 women's team, she's adamant she is not retiring as a player.

Amit Panghal

Commonwealth Games 2022: Gold. Asian Games 2018: Gold

In 2018, Amit Panghal did what many thought was impossible: he took down a monster - a reigning Olympic champion of a monster - to win gold.

After a very disappointing Tokyo Olympics, he had gone to Birmingham 2022 with a point to prove and won gold in the men's 51kg division. In 2023, though, he finds himself out of the squad.

This comes after the Boxing Federation of India's new high performance director Bernard Dunee initiated a continuous assessment system that replaced the old trials method. Deepak Bhoria will participate in the 51kg instead.

Panghal was among three boxers to move court regarding these selections (Rohit Mor and CWG silver medalist Sagar Ahlawat the others), but the BFI's decisions were upheld.

Dutee Chand

Asian Games 2018: 2 Silvers

In 2018, Dutee won silvers in the 100m and the 200m: the former was India's first medal in the event in 32 years, the latter the first in 16.

India's fastest woman, though, was banned for four years for failing two out-of-competition dope tests for a banned substance earlier this year.

Nitu Ganghas

Commonwealth Games 2022: Gold. Reigning World Champion

The reason for her absence is far more straightforward -- her category (48 kg) is not one that's available at the Asian Games (or at the Olympics, for that matter). Oh, and the person boxing in the weight category just above hers (51kg) is India's best boxer at the moment: two-time World Champion and CWG gold medalist Nikhat Zareen.

Men's weightlifting team

Commonwealth Games 2022: 2 golds, 2 silvers, 4 bronze

There are no representatives of the men's weightlifting team at the Asian Games. While Jeremy Lalrinnunga, one of the stars of Birmingham has been "weeded out" of the team as per the federation, the others, including another CWG gold medalist in Achinta Sheuli, have missed out after the Sports Ministry did their final cut post IOA-approved submission of participants (These cuts never come with an explanation).

There are, in fact, just two Indian weightlifters (Mirabai Chanu, Bindyarani Devi) going to Hangzhou and in it's looking extremely unlikely they'll improve upon the zero medals India won in the sport at the Jakarta Asiad.

Honourable mention (for those not in the know: The women's lawn bowls team:

Commonwealth Games 2022: Gold

The absolute superstars of the Birmingham Games. Where are they now?

Well, the answer is simple really. Lawn bowls is not, and has never been, an Asian Games sport. It's CWG-exclusive.