New Delhi: India will send its largest-ever contingent of 656 athletes across 40 different sporting disciplines for the upcoming Asian Games starting September 23 in Hangzhou, China.
This should undoubtedly result in a remarkable medal tally.IANS takes a look at some of the medal contenders in the upcoming sporting extravaganza.
Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting)
Despite being a former world weightlifting champion, Commonwealth Games winner and Olympic silver medallist, Mirabai Chanu will be making her Asian Games debut at Hangzhou.
After missing the last edition due to injury, Chanu will be chasing history at the Asian Games. She even skipped the World Championships to remain fit for her maiden Asian Games appearance.
R. Praggnanandhaa (Chess)
As chess makes its comeback to the Asian Games after a hiatus of 13 years, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa is seen as India’s strongest contender for a medal at the event, given his outstanding current form.
The 18-year-old, who has defeated Norway’s world No. 1 and five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen multiple times, recently became the first Indian after Viswanathan Anand to enter the chess World Cup final, thus qualifying for the Candidates Tournament to be held in Canada next year.
Aditi Ashok (Golf)
Aditi Ashok, who narrowly missed a medal at Tokyo Olympics, has been in an impressive form this year, as she made five top 10 finishes on the LPGA tour. The 24-year-old made a magnificent start to 2023 LET season after winning the Magical Kenya Ladies Open to secure her full LET card.
She then followed it up with stellar performances at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco and Aramco Saudi Ladies International in Saudi Arabia, finishing third and runner-up, respectively.
India has a total of six medals in golf at the Asian Games since the sport made its debut in 1982, including three gold and three silver medals. Notably, all these medals have been won by men.
Rohan Bopanna (Tennis)
World record holder and men’s doubles defending champion Rohan Bopanna (43) will once again look to defy his age when he takes the court in China. Bopanna won the gold in men’s doubles at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, partnering with Divij Sharan.
Earlier this month, he became the oldest male player to reach a Grand Slam final, setting a world record after he and his partner Matthew Ebden of Australia reached the men’s doubles final at the US Open.
Dipika Pallikal, Sourav Ghosal and Joshan Chinappa (Squash)
Dipika Pallikal, the reigning doubles world champion in women’s and mixed events, will lead the eight-member Indian squash team, which includes the likes of Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal.
Pallikal won an individual bronze in the 2018 edition. However, she is yet to compete in singles since 2019. Nonetheless, she will participate in the mixed doubles event at Hangzhou this time.
Pallikal will partner with Harinderpal Singh Sandhu, with whom she won the Asian mixed doubles title at the same venue in June.
Chinappa and Ghosal, who also won individual bronze last time, are the key Indian contenders in women’s and men’s singles, respectively, and will be looking to change the colour of their medal this time.
In addition to Ghosal and Sandhu, Mahesh Mangaonkar is also in the men’s team. The trio was part of the four-member squad that secured India’s lone Asian Games gold in squash at Incheon 2014.
Since squash made its Asian Games debut in 1998, India has won one gold, three silver and nine bronze for a total of 13.
Sharath Kamal (Table Tennis)
Until 2018, India had no medals in table tennis at the Asian Games as the sport was dominated by players from China, Japan and South Korea. However, Indian paddlers created history in Jakarta by winning their first medals at the Asian Games.
And veteran paddler Sharath Kamal had a role to play in both of them. He led the men’s team to a bronze and also teamed up with Manika Batra to win the bronze in mixed doubles.
Kabaddi (Men’s and Women’s)
Indian men’s team is high on confidence for the upcoming Asian Gams after winning the Asian Kabaddi Championship title by beating Iran, the same opponent against whom they lost in the semifinal of the last Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018 to settle for a bronze.
In the eight Asian Games appearances so far, the men’s kabaddi team has lost just two matches — both at Jakarta in 2018.
The women’s team won the silver in Jakarta in 2018, and will look to achieve what was left unfinished five years back.
With a dynamic blend of experience and talent, India aspires to shine brightly in this prestigious continental event. The stage is set, the athletes are ready, as the nation eagerly awaits the unveiling of their triumphs.