History of Kabaddi at the Asian Games
Kabaddi has been one of the popular games over the years. In India, the game is several centuries old. There is proof that the older Kings used Kabaddi as their routine for exercise. Since the game involves physical strength, agility and some strategy, it was an excellent exercise routine. Over the years, the game has seen several forms, and today, it is one of the most famous sports in the country. Despite becoming more competitive these days, the craze and dominance of India in the sport remain the same.
The sport was initially introduced as an exhibition sport prior to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The sport soon became immensely popular in Asian countries and was soon introduced in the Games. From 1951 to 1982, Kabaddi was played in the Asian Games as a demonstration sport.
Due to its increasing popularity and global recognition, Kabaddi became a regular medal sport in the Asian Games.
The 1st edition of the Asian Games which feature Kabaddi was in 1990 in Beijing, China. Since then, the sport has found a regular place in Asian Games.
Initially, only the men's competition was introduced in the games, but ten years later, in 2010, the women's competition was also introduced. Since the introduction of the sport on the bigger stage, the Indian team have dominated in both men's and women's competitions.
In the first-ever Asian Games Kabaddi Tournament, there were six teams, including India, Pakistan, Japan, Bangladesh, China and Nepal. The teams competed in the round-robin format with each team playing each other once. The team that topped the group clinched the gold medal. The format was followed until 2002. The Indian team won every single match right from 1990 to 2002 to clinch the Gold with ease.
The format witnessed a slight change, a knock-out round was introduced after the round-robin format. However, the format change did not change anything for the Indian team as they continued their dominance in the Asian Games.
Asian Games 2010 was the first time where Group stage was introduced instead of a round-robin format. The Women's Kabaddi made its first appearance as well. Notably, the Bronze medal was awarded to both losing semi-finalists.
Until 2014, India won every single game. The team's first loss came in 2018. South Korea became the first team to defeat India in the Asian Games. This happened in the group stage. Despite the loss, India made it to the semi-final, where Iran knocked them out.
In the women's Kabaddi, there have been three editions of the Asian Games Kabaddi so far. Just like the men's team, the Indian women's team have clinched the gold medal most times. India dominated the first two years by clinching the gold medal in the Women's competition. However, in 2018, Iran shocked the two-time champions to win the gold medal.
Bangladesh and Iran grabbed the bronze medal while Thailand won the silver in the 2010 edition. In the 2014 edition, Iran won the silver while Thailand and Bangladesh grabbed the gold. Chinese Taipei and Thailand were the losing semi-finalists in the 2018 edition.
After losing to Iran in both finals, India will be looking for revenge against the team. India will be eager to get back on track in 2022 in Hangzhou China. Despite losing the last edition's final, India will begin as the tournament favourites in both men's and women's editions of the Asian Games Kabaddi tournament.
Notably, the men's team recently defeated Iran in the final of the Asian Kabaddi Championships to win the gold medal and will be keen to repeat the result here as well. On the other hand, Iran will look to defend their title against a strong Indian team.