Asian Games kicks off today

Asian Games kicks off today

Indonesian President Joko Widodo carries the torch for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta on Friday. AFP

The sporting might of the continent will be on display in full measure when the 18th Asian Games begins here on Saturday, with India nursing hopes of a strong show in a clutch of events.

With 11,000 athletes from 45 nations taking part in 40 disciplines, Asian Games has grown to become the second biggest sporting event behind the Olympic Games. It presents varied challenges and for India, it offers an opportunity to measure their standing in the continent.

Four years ago in Incheon, South Korea, a haul of 11 gold, nine silver and 37 bronze medals gave India the eighth position on the table. The attempt will be to better that tally, with several young faces coming through the ranks in recent times.

India have golden hopes in hockey, shooting, kabaddi, athletics, badminton and wrestling but their task in every event will be nothing less than arduous, with the giants of the continent out to prove a point or two.

For China and Japan, these Games are a stepping stone towards the next Olympic Games in Tokyo two years from now and the results here are likely to offer a peek to the future.

It is for the first time that the Games are being held in two cities, with Palembang, Indonesia’s sixth largest city being the co-host, holding events in tennis, shooting and rowing among others. With a huge contingent of 571 athletes here, India’s aim will be to justify the size of that squad with a solid performance — a job easier said than done.