China set to parade their might yet again

The Red Dragon will brook no opposition
Last Updated 17 September 2014, 16:44 IST

That China will top the medals table in the 17th Asian Games is a foregone conclusion. Whether the other participating nations like it or not, they are just forced to play catch-up with the giants. The question this time is, by what margin will the Red Dragons emerge champions.

Four years ago at Guangzhou, the mighty Chinese flexed their muscles like never before, romping to a record 416 medals (199 gold, 119 silver and 98), finishing miles ahead of second-placed South Korea (76 gold, 65 silver 91 bronze).

Riding on the back of a brilliant display at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Chinese just switched gears in merciless fashion, showing their insatiable hunger for success. And one expects no let-up in their race for gold here too, the massive contingent of nearly 900 members stepping foot in this port city with nothing but success on the minds.
Backed by army-style training programme that grooms athletes from the very young, China expects their wards to take great pride in donning the national colours whenever called upon. While some past medal winners will be turning up to further enhance their legacy, this Games will also witness some youngsters who captured the imagination of the world at the London Olympics two years ago.
Two of the stars from London will be seen at the Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Center. Almost unknown teenagers before the Guangzhou Asian Games, Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen unleashed themselves there in mighty fashion, winning two golds each.

Maverick Sun, now 22, won the 1500M freestyle gold in thumping fashion, narrowly missing out on a world record time but created a new Asian record before playing a crucial role in China claiming the 4x200M freestyle relay gold. Sun won silver in the 200 and 400M freestyles as well, announcing to the world on what was to come in London.

Sun won the Olympic gold in the 400M freestyle event before nailing the 1500M freestyle in world record timing. With a silver in the 200M freestyle and a bronze in the 4x200M freestyle relay, Sun firmly established himself as the next big thing in Chinese sports.

His battle with 2008 Olympic 400M champion, Park Tae-hwan of South Korea, in 200 and 400 metres freestyle is expected to be one of the major highlights of the continental bash.
At Guangzhou, Ye swam to gold in 200 and 400 individual medley in impressive fashion as well and then raised the bar at London. She broke the world record over the longer distance in stunning style before setting an Olympic record in the shorter one.

One youngster who has been making waves on the table tennis circuit is the tenacious Fan Zhenong. Known for his ultra-attacking game and thunderous forehand loops, this 17-year-old wonder kid has already risen to No 2 in the world rankings and many have tipped a flourish from him at Incheon.

While the trio along with plenty of other young blood will go all out to prove themselves in an event considered as a preparatory test for the 2016 Rio Olympics, one legend who is certain to attract most of the spotlight is Lin Dan.

The two-time Olympic and five-time world champion is simply one the greatest ever badminton players. Although he has considerably cut down on his participation since London owing to age and fatigue, he will be out to defend his crown which he won by taming his rival Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.

Major forces in table tennis, badminton, gymnastics, weightlifting, diving and shooting, China has sent out strong squads for most of them barring gymnastics, thanks to the World Championships which they will host at Nanjing from October 3-14. Despite that, the Chinese possess all the ammunition to scale the peak yet again as others try to narrow the gap.

(Published 17 September 2014, 16:44 IST)

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