Dominance and Challenges: India’s Kabaddi Journey at the Asian Games

Dominance and Challenges: India’s Kabaddi Journey at the Asian Games


Kabaddi, a sport deeply rooted in India’s history, has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. Combining physical strength, agility, and strategy, it provides an engaging spectacle for audiences worldwide. With a history dating back 4000 years, kabaddi’s journey to international recognition has been remarkable.

**Early Beginnings**

Kabaddi first garnered international attention when it was featured as an exhibition sport prior to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Its popularity soared in Asia, leading to its inclusion as a demonstration sport at the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982.

**Official Inclusion**

However, it wasn’t until the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, China, that kabaddi found a permanent spot in the Asian Games program. Initially, it was exclusively a men’s competition, but the women’s event was introduced in 2010.

**Indian Dominance in Men’s Kabaddi**

From the very beginning, the Indian men’s kabaddi team established its dominance. In 1990, six teams competed in a round-robin format, with India emerging undefeated to claim the gold medal. This format continued until 2002, during which India remained undefeated, securing all the gold medals.

In 2006, a knockout round was introduced after the round-robin league. However, this change made no difference as India continued their unbeaten streak, clinching their fifth-straight gold medal.

**Evolution of Format**

From 2010 onwards, both men’s and women’s kabaddi competitions adopted a group-stage followed by knockout format. India’s teams maintained their supremacy, going unbeaten in the 2010 and 2014 editions, securing gold medals.

**Challenges Faced in 2018**

India’s golden run faced a formidable challenge in 2018. The Indian men’s team suffered its first-ever loss, falling to South Korea in the group stages. Despite finishing second in Group A, they settled for bronze after losing to Iran in the semi-finals.

The Indian women’s team had a more promising run, winning all their group matches. However, they faced an unexpected defeat at the hands of Iran in the final, marking their first-ever loss at the Asian Games.

**Looking Ahead**

As kabaddi returns to the Asian Games in Hangzhou in 2022, India is eager to regain its lost crown and reaffirm its dominance on the international stage.

**Asian Games Kabaddi Winners**

*Men’s Kabaddi*

– 1990: India (Gold), Bangladesh (Silver), Pakistan (Bronze)
1994: India (Gold), Bangladesh (Silver), Pakistan (Bronze)
– 1998: India (Gold), Pakistan (Silver), Bangladesh (Bronze)
2002: India (Gold), Bangladesh (Silver), Pakistan (Bronze)
2006: India (Gold), Pakistan (Silver), Bangladesh (Bronze)
– 2010: India (Gold), Iran (Silver), Pakistan, Japan (Bronze)
– 2014: India (Gold), Iran (Silver), South Korea, Pakistan (Bronze)
– 2018: Iran (Gold), South Korea (Silver), Pakistan, India (Bronze)

*Women’s Kabaddi*

2010: India (Gold), Thailand (Silver), Bangladesh, Iran (Bronze)
– 2014: India (Gold), Iran (Silver), Thailand, Bangladesh (Bronze)
– 2018: Iran (Gold), India (Silver), Chinese Taipei, Thailand (Bronze)

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