The 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea has been hailed by many as a big opportunity for the two warring Korean countries (North and South Korea) to dissolve their differences, and move forward towards peace in the easternmost regions of the continent.
The Opening Ceremony of the 17th Asiad on Friday, showed how sports can bridge the political barriers between two countries, as the North Korean contingent came out waving their flags. In normal circumstances, the North Korean flag is banned in South Korea.
However, due to the Asian games, the South Korean authorities have relaxed their rules, and allowed athletes from their neighbouring country to hoist it.
However, things seemed to have gotten off to a rather bad start on Saturday, as residents of many neighbourhoods in Incheon complained of their neighbouring communist state's flag, causing them discomfort. Hence the authorities had to take the flag down. This does not bode well for the spirit of sportsmanship that a big event like this entails.
In spite of such happenings, the Games proceeded as usual, on its first day, with China racing into the lead, with a total medal tally of 10 (five gold, one silver and four bronze). India also got off the mark, winning a couple of medals (one gold and one bronze), while assuring another. Let's take a look at the highlights of the day, from an Indian perspective.
The Indian Women beat Macau 3-0 to make it to the quarter finals of the women's team badminton event. India faced Thailand in the last eight, and after a tense battle, got the better of the South East Asian side 3-2, with it assuring the country of at least another bronze medal.
It was a good day for the Indians in basketball, as they comprehensively beat Palestine 89-49 in Group B of the men's qualifying round game.
Chinese Taipei tamed India 39-20 in the opening Group D encounter.
Kalpana Devi made it to the bronze medal match of the women's 52kg event, where she lost out to Lenariya Mingazova of Kazakhstan.
Shushila Devi also lost out to Shugen Wu of China in the women's 48kg final of repechage.
Meanwhile, in the men's 60kg category, Navjot Chana lost out to Boldbaatar Ganbat of Mongolia, in the Round of 16.
It was a good day for India, in shooting, with both the Indian medals coming from this sport alone. The first medal was won by Shweta Chaudhry, who clinched the bronze in the women's 10m air pistol event.
The second one was all the more interesting. Nepal-born Jitu Rai made a tremendous comeback in the final round, to win the gold medal in the men's 50m pistol event.
Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa made their way into the quarterfinal of the women's singles squash event, assuring India of its maiden Asiad medal in this category. Chinappa beat South Korean Song Summi 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, while Pallikal beat China's Jinyue Gu 11-6, 10-12, 11-6, 11-4. However, only one of these players can get a medal in this year's Asiad.
The Indian women beat their Chinese counterparts 3-0 in their first round Match.
The Indian men suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of hosts South Korea.
The Indian men struggled to beat a lowly Hong Kong side 23-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-21 in their first group league game of the tournament, while the Indian women succumbed tamely to a strong South Korean side 25-5, 25-12, 25-13 in their opening group match.
In the men's event, Sukhen Dey finished 5th, lifting a total weight of 242kg (106kg snatch and 136kg clean & jerk) in the men's 56kg event, in Group B.
Meanwhile, Indian women Saikhom Mirabai Chanu and Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu finished 9th and 10th respectively. Saikhom lifted a total of 171kg (75kg snatch and 96kg clean & jerk), while Sanjita lifted a total of 166kg (73kg snatch and 93kg clean and jerk)..
Narender Grewal of India beat Mangal Prasad Tharu of Nepal to make his way into the men's Sanda 60kg category of the event.
In the women's section, in the 52kg category, Sanathoi Devi Yummam of India beat Uzbek Mubarak Kamalova to make her way into the quarterfinals.