India is sending a contingent of 655 athletes for the Asian Video games 2023 which formally kicks off on 23 September in Hangzhou, China. India received a file 70 medals within the 2018 Asian Video games together with 16 gold and they are going to be hoping for a significantly better efficiency this time round.
Numerous prime performers together with tennis ace Rohan Bopanna, hockey nice P R Sreejesh and TT legend Sharath Kamal who’re favourites to win medals are additionally gearing up for one final hurrah on the Asian Video games.
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Each Sharath and Rohan are nonetheless pulling off world class performances of their 40s whereas 35-year-old Sreejesh stays the proverbial wall of the Indian hockey crew.
The opposite large names who’re anticipated to say goodbye to the continental occasion embrace wrestling veteran Bajrang Punia, squash star Dipika Pallikal, tennis participant Ankita Raina and discus thrower Seema Punia.
All of them could be within the twilight of their careers however stay medal contenders on the Video games. Right here’s a have a look at their probabilities forward of the quadrennial occasion, which was delayed by one yr resulting from COVID-19.
The 43-year-old tennis veteran is popping the clock again together with his exploits on the lads’s doubles circuit this yr. Having made the semifinals and last of Wimbledon and US Open respectively this season, the large serving Indian is displaying age is only a quantity.
Solely yesterday, he made a bid adieu to the Davis Cup on a successful word and can be anticipated to do the identical within the males’s doubles occasion in China.
Bopanna, who made his Asian Video games debut manner again in 2002, goes into the event because the defending champion, having received the doubles gold alongside Divij Sharan within the 2018 version. He might associate Yuki Bhambri in Hangzhou.
The 41-year-old desk tennis ace will look so as to add to his shock two Asian Video games medals in his fifth and last look. Final yr, he was among the many stand out gamers within the Commonwealth Video games, the place he received as many as three gold medals.
The lead as much as the Asian Video games has not been the smoothest for him however one can anticipate him to lift his recreation when the stakes are excessive.
The boys’s crew bronze within the final version had ended a 60-year watch for a desk tennis medal on the Asian Video games and that occasion stays India’s greatest guess.
Competitors in Asian Video games is far greater than the CWG and the trio of Sharath, G Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai can be aiming to match its current efficiency on the Asian Championships the place it earned a bronze.
Sharath had picked up an surprising bronze with Manika Batra within the earlier version in Jakarta however the feminine star will probably be be paring with up Sathiyan on this event.
She will probably be one other medal contender on the tennis courtroom. The 30-year-old turned solely the second Indian feminine tennis participant after Sania Mirza to win a singles medal on the Asian Video games when she secured a bronze within the 2018 version.
In addition to a bagful of doubles medals, Sania managed to win a singles silver and bronze in Asian Video games. Raina can be more likely to function within the girls’s doubles and blended doubles occasion.
By his personal admission, the veteran goalkeeper is taking one event at a time on the fag finish of his profession. The upcoming Asian Video games is certainly Sreejesh’s final shot on the continental showpiece and he will probably be giving his all to assist India declare the gold and qualify instantly for subsequent yr’s Paris Olympics.
He has registered 301 worldwide caps to date after making his India debut in 2006. He performed a serious half in India successful an Olympic medal after 4 a long time and his type will probably be essential if the crew is to regain the gold after settling for a disappointing bronze in Jakarta 5 years in the past.
Sreejesh will proceed to share goalkeeping duties with the a lot youthful Krishan Bahadur Pathak.
The mom of two is definitely competing in her fourth and final Asian Video games. The 32-year-old, who has two singles and as many crew medals to her identify at Asian Video games, will solely be seen within the blended doubles occasion alongside Harinderpal Sandhu.
The previous world quantity 10 and Sandhu had a really perfect construct as much as the Video games by successful the check occasion in Hangzhou in June.
Following the delivery of her twins, Dipika had received two world doubles title alongside Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal (blended) final yr. She adopted it up with a blended doubles bronze within the Commonwealth Video games and is set to finish her Asian Video games profession with one other medal.
The 29-year-old champion wrestler will probably be making his first look on the mat after main the protest in opposition to former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual harassment of feminine wrestlers.
All eyes will probably be on the seasoned professional who will take the mat to defend his 65kg title in China. The Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist will probably be making his third look on the Asian Video games. Earlier than the gold in Jakarta, he had secured silver within the 2014 version.
The 40-year-old discus thrower has managed to win a gold and bronze within the earlier two editions. The CWG in Birmingham final yr was a disappointment as she didn’t win a medal after doing so previously 4 editions. Asian Video games will probably be her final likelihood to finish on the rostrum.
With PTI inputs