Incheon won’t match grandeur of 2010 but glory is up for grabs, says S. Kannan

first_imgS. KannanThe day every sports fan on the continent has been waiting for has finally arrived. Athletes from every nook and corner of Asia will stretch every sinew to try and gather glory for themselves and their countries as the 17th Asian Games get underway in Incheon on Friday.The profile of the Games has gone up several notches since New Delhi hosted the first event in 1951. Such is the standard and intensity of the Asiad these days that some world records could take a beating.Track and field, swimming, shooting, boxing, baseball, weightlifting and wrestling are events which will generate a lot of excitement in their respective arenas dotted across this port city, which is an hour and a half away from the South Korean capital, Seoul.Athletes with posters supporting India.If the opening ceremony at the 2010 Asian Games was a visual delight as giant laser shows and high decibel fireworks lit up the Guangzhou skyline, there is no suspense before Friday’s opening ceremony as the Incheon organisers have sought to keep costs in check and have kept the fuss to a minimum.The Songdo Convensia, where the main media centre is located, is in the heart of the city and next to it is the Incheon University, where students are busy with academics just a day before the Games.”I don’t think I will be going for the sporting events. This time, events have not been publicised much,” said Kim Rae.The real action in the fortnightlong sporting extravaganza will be in 36 disciplines, of which India will be competing in 28. Being the hosts, South Korea will try and maximise their medal chances but the Chinese are in no mood to relent.advertisementIn Guangzhou four years ago, China towered above the rest of the field with 199 gold, 119 silver and 98 bronze for a tally of 416 medals. South Korea had then won 76 gold, 65 silver and 91 bronze for an aggregate of 232 while Japan was third with 48 gold, 74 silver and 94 bronze.There has been no looking back for China since. With their economy booming, funding for sports has not been a problem for athletes. Today, the world marvels at their systematic training programmes, where huge emphasis is on modern methods and applying sports science.India finished fourth in the charts in Guangzhou with 65 medals (14 gold, 17 silver and 34 bronze). At that time, India had trained hard for the New Delhi Commonwealth Games and managed to continue the good form into the Asian Games. Similarly, India did fairly well in the recent Glasgow Commonwealth Games, clinching 64 medals, and that will serve as a psychological boost.This time around, there is no scope for pessimism, though standards in Asia in almost every sport have gone up.Comparisons with China and South Korea can never be avoided in a multi-discipline extravaganza, but as a sporting nation, India still does not have the culture to produce champions by the dozen.Those who did well in Glasgow will not necessarily do well in Incheon as there is a huge difference in standard. In sports like wrestling and weightlifting, winning gold will be very tough even as fierce competitor Yogeshwar Dutt and company hold a lot of promise.Hockey used to be India’s traditional strength but times have changed. Only a gold medal can restore faith in the ‘national game’. There is a lot of buzz in the air about boxing. Glasgow was disappointing for the pugilists and if they have to make a mark here, they will have to compete very hard.If one were to pick some gold medal prospects for India in Incheon, it won’t be a tough call. Beijing Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra is gunning for his first Asiad gold, pistol shooter Jitu Rai is in superb form and rising shuttle star P.V. Sindhu, fresh from her recent bronze medal at the World Championship, can again bother the Chinese.s.kannan@mailtoday.inlast_img

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