Jakarta: Twin defeats at the hands of Iran in the 18th Asian Games will rankle India for a long time but it also reflects that Kabaddi has truly become a global sport, says women's team coach L Srinivas Reddy.
Traditional powerhouse India returned without a gold in kabaddi for the first time in the history of the Games after Iran shocked their women's team 24-27 in the final on Friday to join their male counterparts in walking away with the top honours.
The Indian men's team had lost 18-27 to Iran in the semifinals on Thursday.
Reddy said India cannot take its medal for granted now as the rivals are watching the game keenly.
"Yes, the defeat hurts because we had come with an aim to create a hat-trick. The game has been globalized. Other teams will also fancy their chances now. It is becoming an Olympic sport," he said.
"Chinese Taipei started playing the game only in 2014 now they are podium finishers, that means the game is growing at a great speed. It's a win for Kabaddi."
The coach said the game has come a long way from the time when the Kabaddi players' applications for the Arjuna award was not considered seriously.
"At one point of time Milkha Singh had rejected the file of our players for the Arjuna award, saying only six countries play Kabaddi, why give them Arjuna. Now 40 countries play the game. It starts with one country and then grows. So no game is small or big," Reddy said.
The young coach also felt that the fear factor has been neutralised by the Kabaddi Leagues, which allows players to mingle with each other.
Pro Kabaddi League and World Kabaddi League were launched on the line of IPL and became popular among fans. It also helped Kabaddi players gain an identity and money too.
"The exposure through Leagues has helped foreign players. There was always the uncertainty factor but with players playing consistently with each other, that factor is no more there. The phobia is over, players are friends with each other. They are watching the game keenly and we have to work harder now. We can't take things for granted."
Analysing the defeat, Reddy said, "The defence faltered and raiders also could not perform at crunch moments. Silver does not give us satisfaction, we always play for gold."
Iran team was coached by an Indian – Shailja Jain – but the coach said credit should be given to people who prepared the Iran team from the scratch.
"A lot of India coaches have gone there but it's years of hard work that is paying off. No coach has magic wand to transform a team in six months. She has got credit because it happened under her tenure."
Reddy though looked a bit peeved with media for not highlighting the big wins, as they did the Asian Games defeat.
"When we became world champions no one gave us coverage but now that we have lost, everyone is talking about this defeat. The media would give just 2 paras earlier, but now men's team loss, the coverage was huge."
Reddy said nothing less than a gold is acceptable to them.
"In other sport, people may be happy winning silver and bronze but we want only gold. We have missed it, so it hurts. We have to work hard," he said.
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Updated Date: Aug 24, 2018 18:24:39 IST