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China to dominate Asian Games in Incheon

Editor: Zhang Dan 丨Xinhua

09-16-2014 16:28 BJT

Full coverage: 17th Asian Games Incheon 2014

INCHEON, South Korea, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- China aims to dominate the Asian Games medal table for the ninth consecutive time as it sends a large squad to Incheon for the continent's premier sporting event.

China's team of more than 1,300 athletes and officials will participate in all but one of the 36 sports -- kabbadi -- at the Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 Games, with 33 Olympic champions in its squad.

"We consider the Asian Games an important part of our preparation for the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympic Games," said Xiao Tian, deputy chef de mission of Team China.

"We hope that our athletes can show their fighting spirit and sportsmanship at the Asian Games and maintain our No. 1 position in the medals table."

At the last Asiad in Guangzhou in 2010, China topped the table for the eighth straight time with 199 golds. It grabbed 416 medals overall, to 232 for South Korea and 216 for Japan.

Again, China will likely dominate table tennis, gymnastics, diving, badminton, weightlifting, and track and field, while fielding competitive athletes in other sports of the Games, with a total of 439 gold medals up for grabs.

But Liu Peng, chef de mission of Team China, stressed that the performance of the "Big Ball" (soccer, basketball, volleyball) teams will carry great significance.

"Our teams of the three 'Big Ball' events face uphill battle in Incheon," said Liu. "I hope that they won't be daunted by the challenge and can make a breakthrough."

To his disappointment, however, China's men's soccer team went down 3-0 to DPR Korea on Monday in their group opener at the Incheon Asiad, and their women counterparts were held 0-0 by Japan.

While former NBA star Yi Jianlian is absent in Incheon, China's hopes in basketball are also dampened.

China's badminton coach Li Yongbo is hoping his team can win all seven gold medals on offer, with legendary badminton star Lin Dan -- known as "Super Dan" -- and reigning world women's single champion Li Xuerui in the line-up there.

As the world gymnastics championships are scheduled for October 3-12 in China, many of the Chinese star gymnasts will be missing the Asiad. Men's horizontal bars world champion Zhang Chenglong and parallel bars world title holder Lin Chaopan will not be in Incheon.

In track and field, China is hoping to better the 13 gold medals it won in Guangzhou, with hopes highest in men's long jump, women's shot put, discus and long-distance running. But, China's top athletics star Liu Xiang, who has yet to regain fitness following a foot injury which forced him out of the London Olympics, will not be able to defend his Asiad title.

China has won 55 table tennis championships in the past 10 Asian Games and swept all seven gold medals in Guangzhou. If it wants to match the feat, it must do so without veteran Wang Hao and defending women's champion Li Xiaoxia.

"The Asiad will largely be used as a platform for young aspiring athletes to get international competition experience," said Liu Guoliang, head coach of the Chinese table tennis team.

"We don't care much about how many gold medals we win in Incheon. We're focusing on the Rio Olympics," he added.

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