Sunday 21 January 2018
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17th Asian Games – SPRINTS – Ogunode and Al-Masrahi are the favourites

Qatar’s Femi Ogunode was just 19-years-old when he was victorious in Guangzhou Asiad while securing a 200-400m double in 2010. Originally hails from Nigeria, Ogunode migrated to Qatar only the previous year. Femi, reinstated in Jan 2014 after doping suspension, will try for another “double” in Incheon with a different combination (100/200m). He is already the season’s leading performer in Asia in both 100m (10.04) and 200m (20.06) but what makes his job easy will be the withdrawal of top Japanese sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu. Clocked an incredible 10.05 secs this May, Kiryu had to pull out from the Japanese team due to a hamstring injury. In view of the above situation, China’s Su Bingtian (10.06 PB) and Xie Zhenye, the winners of 100 and 200m titles in last year’s Asian championships at Pune, will be the Qatari’s main rivals on the track.

Four years ago Youssef Al-Masrahi was part of a gold winning Saudi Arabian 4x400m relay quartet in Guangzhou. But in the run-up towards Incheon he already added the Asian title from Pune-2013 and also grabbed the continental mark in 400m. Running with Olympians Kirani James (Grenada) and LaShawn Merritt (US), Al-Masrashi etched the Asian Record during his third place finish in Lausanne’s popular Athletissima – a Diamond League meeting – in July. With his nearest rivals are lagging almost a second behind him, the Saudi one lapper looking very strong to win his favaourite event in the Asian Games.


17th Asian Games - DECATHLON – Karpov vs Japan

Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan, the Athens Olympic bronze medalist, is slow and steady in his progress. Starting with a silver medal in 2002 Asiad at Busan, Karpov went on to win two Gold medals in the next two editions of the Asian Games in Doha and Guangzhou. His performance in 2004 Olympic Games at Athens (8725 points) is still remaining as the continental record for decathlon. Incidentally the top-10 average of his performances (8478) is looking taller than the best marks of Keisuke Ushiro (8308) and Akihiko Nakamura (8035) set in 2014 and that speaks volumes about his caliber.

17th Asian Games – SHOT PUT – Surprise in store

Sultan Abdulmajeed Al-Hebshi of Saudi Arabia had won the gold medals in the Guangzhou Asian Games and Pune Asian championships. His 2009 mark of 21.13m in Qatar Athletics Super Grand Prix remains as an Asian record to date. But the Sulatan’s crown is in danger as new faces started appearing on the arena in recent times. Chinese-Taipei’s Chang Ming-Huang is best among the Asian shot putters this season with a heave of 20.13m. Interestingly he tossed the iron ball to 20.58m three years ago. Mainland China’s Wang Guangfu (20.20m in 2012) and last year’s World University Games silver medalist Inderjeet Singh (19.83m this season) from India are also expected to throw in some keen contest in this event.


LONG THROWS – A non-chinese kaleidoscope

In discus throw India’s Vikas Gowda already emerged as an Asian champion in Pune last year and clinched the Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow this year. He is leading the continental rankings with 65.62m closely followed by two Iranians Mohammad Samimi (65.46) and Ehsan Hadadi (65.23). Hadadi, the London Olympics silver medalist, has already credited with two back to back gold medals in the Asian Games at Doha (2006) and Guangzhou (2010). He is looking for a ‘hat-trick’ in Incheon and hence promised to provide the tough opposition to the Indian.

Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov looking formidable in hammer throw with his season leading 80.62m. Nazarov had five other 80+ marks to his credit with a personal best of 80.71m recorded last year. In the absence of his Asian record-holder Koji Murofushi of Japan (84.86m in 2003), Nazarov will have an easy task to defend his title in Korea.

Guangzhou winner Yukifumi Murakami (85.96m in 2013) will have to clash with his Japanese teammate Ryohei Arai (85.48m this year) and Uzbekistan’s current Asian champion Ivan Zaytsev (85.03 in 2012) for the top honours in javelin throw. Korean favourite Park Jae-Myong (83.99m in 2004), China’s Zhao Qinggang (83.14m in 2013) and Chinese-Taipei’s Huang Shih-Feng (82.11m in 2013) may pull a surprise or two in this event.


17th Asian Games – HORIZONTAL JUMPS – An Indian among the top contenders

Triple jumper Arpinder Singh is doing the rounds ever since he bettered the Indian record with an excellent leap of 17.17m – a mark that put him on top in both Commonwealth and Asian lists this year. Although he was nowhere near to that distance after a cruel summer day at Lucknow in June, Singh garnered a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow earlier this year. Last year’s Asian champion Cao Shuo (17.35 in 2012) and his Chinese teammate Dong Bin (17.38 in 2012) looking formidable against the Indian. Also in the fray are four other jumpers with 17+ marks to their credit that includes two from Kazakhstan – Roman Valiyev (17.20) and Yevgeniy Ektov (17.22), one from hosts Korea – Kim Duk Hyung (17.10) and former Indian record holder Renjith Maheswary (17.07m in 2010).

The long jump is a cup of tea for the Chinese as their athletes took the top nine spots in 2014 ranking lists. Li Jinzhe (8.47m) and Gao Xinglong (8.18) has set their personal bests this year and going to Incheon to claim the top two spots. The Koreans are fielding defending Asian Games champion Kim Duk Hyung. Kim leapt a distance of 8.20m five years ago and looking for a ‘double’ this time.