2018 Asian Games – Chinese triumph or upset?
The Asian Games return after four years, this time in Jakarta and Palembang. The Indonesian cities will witness a sporting treat, with top dogs- China, Japan and South Korea ready to fire – aiming for the top spot.
China has been dominating the Asian Games since the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi and have held on to the top spot ever since. Sports like badminton, athletics, diving, weightlifting and shooting being their strong suit, the Chinese have dominated these events, so much so that they won all the top medals in the 2014 games, in the above sports.
In 2014, a large share of medals won by China was in the swimming and diving events where they collectively won a total of 63 medals out of their overall total of 342 medals in Incheon. Another sport dominated by China in 2014 was shooting, where they won a whopping 50 medals, which included 27 gold medals. Athletics was also another event where no one could match China. They finished the games with 15 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze medals across all athletic disciplines.
The 2016 Olympic Games saw the ‘human’ side of the Chinese contingent, the games were instrumental in showing that China was not invincible and other nations too were coming up to their standards, if not surpassing them. The Chinese finished in third place, behind the United States of America and Great Britain. Recent International statistics too point towards China’s apparent decline. China finished second in the 2017 Asian Athletics Championship, finishing with 20 medals, nine less than table toppers India.
In the 2016 Asian Swimming Championships, the Chinese finished on top, but were given several scares all throughout the tournament. The Japanese and South Korean contingents too showed that they could breathe fire, as they gave China a serious run for their money.
Badminton has always been a sport dominated by the Chinese, but recent international statistics show how their domination is coming to an end. The emergence of European players such as Danish Viktor Axelsen and Spanish Carolina Marin, as well as young Asian guns such as Taiwanese Tai Tzu-ying, Indian PV Sindhu and Japanese Akane Yamaguchi has somewhat stagnated the Chinese supremacy. China’s main hope in the men’s singles will be Shi Yuqi, who is the highest ranked player in the 2018 Asian Games, veterans Lin Dan and Chen Long will also be looking to retain their gold and silver medals from 2014.
China’s shooting medal chances too seem to be in fray, as subcontinental countries have performed well in the recently concluded 2018 Commonwealth Games as well as in the Asian Championships, with India leading both the medal tallies in the event. Indian talents such as Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu, and young shooters like Anish Bhanwala and Manu Bhaker will pose a serious challenge to the Chinese. The South Korean shooting contingent too shows immense promise and are the traditional second favorites in Asian competitions.
The Indian contingent enters the Asian Games with confidence following a good performance in the Commonwealth Games. Badminton stars Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth all bagged medals at the Gold Coast, and will look to repeat the same in Indonesia. Table Tennis star Manika Batra too looks to be in good form, coming into the games on a high note after winning a gold at the Commonwealth games. There will be high expectations from the wrestling and kabaddi teams, looking at their past performances at the games.
The Asian Games begin on August 18. The Chinese will surely look forward to kill all criticism that has surrounded them before the games. With countries such as Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and India too sending in their strongest contingents, the world can expect a top-notch sporting marvel spanning over the next two weeks.
Edited by: Tarush Dhume
Feature Image Courtesy :- South China Morning Post (Google Images)