Preview: China vows dominance while Hangzhou expected to stay three-way battle

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 22, 2023
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HANGZHOU, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese athletes are gearing up to reaffirm the host nation's dominant status at the Hangzhou Asian Games, anticipated to be a showdown between the continent's top three sports powerhouses in medal standings.

China, South Korea, and Japan hold unparalleled dominance in Asian sports. In the overall medal count from the previous Asian Games, South Korea ranks third behind China and Japan but has secured 500 more golds than fourth-placed Iran.

Recognized as the world's second-largest multi-sport competition after the Olympic Games, the Asian Games serve as a primary platform for these three giants to flex their sporting prowess. With the 19th Asian Games on the horizon, featuring over 12,000 athletes from 45 countries and regions competing in 481 events across 40 sports, it's also viewed as a litmus test for Asia's athletic capabilities leading up to Paris 2024. Additionally, nine sports in Hangzhou will act as Olympic qualifiers, offering 74 slots.

Since making their Asian Games debut in Tehran in 1974, China secured the top position from Japan at New Delhi 1982 and has maintained that lead. South Korea has finished as runner-up on seven occasions, and Japan three times in the last 10 editions dominated by China.

From Beijing 1990, where China clinched 183 golds, the nation has maintained its stronghold, peaking with 199 golds in Guangzhou 2010. South Korea and Japan followed with 76 and 48 golds, respectively.

In the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, China claimed 151 titles, with the hosts securing 79 and Japan 47. At Jakarta 2018, Japan surpassed South Korea for second place, earning 75 golds to South Korea's 49, while China led with 132.

At a team launch ceremony in Beijing last week, Chef de Mission of the Chinese sports delegation, Gao Zhidan, expressed determination to lead the 886-member squad to another top finish.

"The whole team should make concerted efforts to demonstrate China's sporting strength," Gao emphasized, urging athletes to excel in both Hangzhou and Paris.

South Korea and Japan, with record Asian Games delegations of 867 and 771 athletes respectively, are equally ambitious. South Korea aims for a significant comeback in Hangzhou, as reported by Yonhap.

"This year's Asian Games will mark a new beginning for South Korean sports," stated Lee Kee-heung, president of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC), referencing South Korea's lowest Asiad gold medal count since 1982. South Korea had finished second at every Asian Games from 1998 to 2014, but settled for third place in 2018 with 49 golds, 26 less than Japan.

The KSOC's goal for South Korea is a third-place finish in Hangzhou, behind China and Japan, targeting 45 to 50 gold medals. This projection, deemed "unusually modest" by the country's state news agency.

DPR Korea might pose unexpected challenges in sports like weightlifting, gymnastics, boxing, and soccer, with 191 athletes registered for the Hangzhou Asiad.

Beyond the major players, notable athletes are set to participate in the event starting Saturday. Javelin world champion Neeraj Chopra from India aims for his second consecutive Asiad gold, while Thai world No. 2 shuttler Kunlavut Vitidsarn hopes to capitalize on his recent world championship victory. Enditem

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