PALEMBANG, Aug 21: It was a �victory in defeat� for the Indian men�s sepaktakraw team which settled for its maiden Asian Games bronze medal after being beaten by a formidable Thailand in the semifinals here today.
The Indian men�s regu team lost to Thailand 0-2 but picked up a bronze as both the losing semifinalists are also awarded a medal.
Sepaktakraw, which directly translates to kick the ball, has been part of the Games programme since 1990. India has participated since the 2006 edition and is slowly catching with the South East Asian countries, where the sport has a huge following.
Thailand has won a whopping 22 gold medals at the Games and Myanmar is a distant second in the list with five gold.
The Indian team was training in Thailand for the past two months and that made a huge difference, according to chief coach Hem Raj.
�The only way is up for these boys. The government has put us in the priority sport list and we will continue to repay their faith with good performances,� an ecstatic Raj told PTI.
Eight of the 12 members of the squad are from Manipur and the rest from Delhi.
The sport is quite popular in Manipur, primarily because of its proximity to Myanmar.
�Yes, that is how the sport became so popular in Manipur. It is close to Myanmar and it has always been easy to source equipments from there. Now we use synthetic balls but back in the day, we used to get balls made of bamboo. That was the traditional way of playing the sport,� said another team official Muhindro Singh Thokchom. � PTI