The Dragon set to dominate again

Swimmer Sun Yang is among the few senior athletes that China has included for the Asian Games. AFP

Every four years, China wows the continent with the strength, depth and range of their sporting talent. Highly ambitious, they have outsmarted every nation in Asia ever since they came back to the Asian Games fold in 1982. A similar theme and tune will certainly be played out in Jakarta over the next two weeks.

China have fielded a contingent of 845 athletes this time. It features 19 Olympic champions but the emphasis will be on the young component, with the Asian giants already eyeing a strong show at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

China topped Japan from the perch at the 1982 Games and have not relinquished that position since then. A spectacular performance at home in 2010 was the highlight of their journey, with the country sweeping a record 199 gold medals then. At Incheon four years ago, the gold haul was 151.

The Chinese officials have a habit of downplaying their achievements and also expectations but no one has any doubt about their real aim — world domination. At home in 2008, they realised their ambition, topping the medals tally at the Beijing Olympic Games. In subsequent Olympics at London and Rio, they have slipped to second and third positions, with a big dip in the medal haul. They would certainly love to arrest that fall, two years from now.

The number of first-timers — 631 — shows the emphasis on youth but China haven’t ignored their seniors completely, with badminton great Lin Dan and swimming ace Sun Yang featuring prominently. Lin Dan, competing in his fifth Asian Games, has won four gold medals and even though he has lost that edge in recent times, he cannot be counted out. Indeed, China need fresh blood to come through in badminton, the team having taken quite a few knocks in recent times. 

In athletics, Asian record holder in the 100M, Su Bingtian will lead the charge but fellow sprinter Xie Zhenye has pulled out due to injury.

China had plundered 27 gold in shooting, 22 in swimming and 15 in athletics at Incheon while their gymnasts and rowers netted nine gold medals each. With team events being dropped in shooting, China may not enjoy the same haul this time but with great depth across different events, the dragon’s roar will be heard loud and clear in Jakarta and Palembang.

 

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The Dragon set to dominate again

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