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Record medals, many firsts & let downs

Indian origin Singapore-born Sashi Cheliah won the coveted Masterchef Australia 2018 title in an intense finale of the latest seasons of the wildly popular cooking reality show.

The 39-year-old Sashi took home the prize money of 250,000 Australian dollars, after defeating fellow contestant Ben Borsht. Sashi clocked a final score of 93 out of 100, against Borsht's score of 77, in a season that saw some of the greatest chefs of all time as guest judges. Sashi originally hails from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and was serving as a prison guard in Adelaide. The season 10 winner has also served as a police officer in Singapore for 12 years. Sashi, who announced his win on social media recently, moved to Adelaide six years ago, with his wife and two sons. Sharing a picture with the shiny Masterchef trophy and his family, an ecstatic Sashi reportedly plans to use the prize money to start an Indian and Southeast Asian fusion restaurant and also work with ex-prisoners, in order to provide them with employment opportunities. The finale took place in the presence of esteemed chefs and longtime Masterchef judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris, and Gary Mehigan. The runner up of the show, Ben Borsht, was awarded with a prize money of 40,000 Australian dollars.

Track and field was a happy hunting ground, with India picking up 19 medals, including seven of its total 15 golds. Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, whose gold-winning 88.06m makes him among the world’s best, particularly shone. As did Swapna Barman, who kept ahead of the pack to win gold in heptathlon even as she coped with a painful tooth infection and shoes far from ideal for her sixtoed feet.

Boxer Amit Panghal shocked Uzbekistan’s Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov with a split verdict in the men’s 49 kg category. Shooting and wrestling seized two gold medals each while table tennis broke its Asian Games drought with two bronze medals. P.V. Sindhu claimed the country’s maiden Asiad silver in badminton and Saina Nehwal got a bronze.

There were disappointments too, especially in kabaddi, in which for the first time both the men’s and women’s teams finished without a gold medal. In men’s hockey, India, the defending champion and favourite, slumped with a bronze, missing automatic qualification for the Olympics in Tokyo. India should now build on its Asiad success to do better at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games than it did in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, when the contingent returned with just two medals. It also needs to ensure that the sport is clean.

The Prime Minister congratulated the medal winners and complimented them for their exemplary performance enabling India to register its best ever medal tally at the Asian Games, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. He told the medal winners that their sporting feats have raised India's stature and pride. He expressed the hope that the medal winners will remain grounded and would not lose focus due to fame and accolades.

"During the interaction, Prime minister urged the sports persons to use technology as an aid to improve their performance. He added that sports persons should continue their self-improvement by using technology aided critical analysis of their performance as well as those of top players in the world. "Prime Minister expressed happiness in seeing young talents rise from the small towns, rural areas and from poor background and win medals for the nation.

He said that there is real potential in the rural areas and we should continue nurturing those talents. He added that the outside world is unaware of the day-to-day struggles a sports person has to gothrough," the statement said.

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