Saturday 20 January 2018
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17th Asian Games – VERTICAL JUMPS – Barshim raises the bar

Mutaz Essa Barshim is the second Asian athlete leading the world rankings this season. The Qatari high jumper and Guangzhou Asiad victor is a world junior champion in 2010. He went on to win a bronze medal in London Olympics and improved it to a silver position in the world championships at Moscow last year before standing on the top of the podium this year as he crowned in the World Indoor championships at Sopot, Poland.

Barshim improved the Asian record in high jump five times to date. Beginning with 2.39m in Lausanne two years ago that erased Zhu Jianhua’s 2.38m set way back in 1984 to his latest classic 2.43m at Brussels in the first week of this month. Incidentally he improved the AR thrice this year itself. Barshim even made some gallant attempts to better Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s 21-year-old world mark of 2.45m but could not succeed yet. Under ideal conditions the Qatari jumper shall provide a proud moment to the Incheon spectators to witness the first-ever world record in athletics at the Asian Games!

Although ranking second, China’s Zhang Guowei (2.34m) will be the main competitor for Barshim in Incheon. Chinese athletes are having a great tradition in high jump. From the days of Ni Zhiqin (Ni Chih-Chin) to Zhu Jianhua, the country behind the great wall has witnessed some of the popular high jumpers in the World. Barshim had a giant advantage of 12:1 winning ratio over Guowei in their head-to-head encounters. But the Chinese will try his might to topple the applecart with the company of his teammate Wang Yu (2.33m PB) and Japan’s Naoto Tobe (2.31m) in Incheon.

In pole vault the main fight will be between two Chinese athletes. Defending champion Yang Yancheng (5.80m PB in 2013) will clash with last year’s Asian champion Xue Changrui (5.80m PB in 2014). Japan’s Daichi Sawano, who scaled 5.83m in 2005, will take compatriot Seito Yamamoto (5.75) and Korean Jin Min-Sub (5.75) to challenge the vaulters from dragon-land.

 

 

17th Asian Games – RACE WALKING – Japan vs China

Yusuke Suzuki is one of the two world leading performers of this year taking part in the Asian Games. The Japanese race walker clocked an incredible 1:18:17 in Kobe this February with teammate Eiki Takahashi (1:18:41) making the team to Incheon in 20km. Chinese pair Cai Zelin (1:18:52) and Wang Zhen (1:17:36 PB in 2012) will provide the expected fight to the Japanese along with local favourite Kim Hyun-Sub (1:19:24) also put in some challenge. Whether India’s K.T. Irfan, who finished a credible tenth place in London Olympics, will crack in to grab a medal in the hot pursuit is a question need to be answered only in the days to come.

Another Japanese duo, Takayuki Tanii (3:41:32) and Yuki Yamazaki (3:40:12 PB in 2009), is leading the fray in the grueling 50 km distance. China’s Wang Zhendong (3:47:18) and Zhang Lin (3:48:49) will fight it out for a medal or two Incheon.

 

17th Asian Games – LONG DISTANCES – Bahraini athletes leading the fray

Asian distance running races are now under the control of Bahrain athletes with Albert Rop (13:06.12 in 5000m), El Hassan Elabbasi (27:32.96 in 10000m) and Shumi Dechasa (2:06:44 in Marathon) emerging as the Asian Leaders in their respective events.

Notwithstanding Qatari steeplechaser Ali Abubaker Kamal’s season leading 8:17.27, the line-up includes two much superiors Bahraini barrier crossers in reigning Asian Games gold medalist and Pune winner Tareq Mubarak Taher (8:06.13 PB) and John Koech (8:16.96 PB) to tackle the situation.

 

17th Asian Games – HURDLE RACES – Chinese are the best

Chinese hurdlers have been winning 110m hurdles almost in every edition of the Asian Games since 1974. Only in 1982 that the title went to Japan’s Yoshifumi Fujimori. Leading continental hurdler Xie Wenjun (13.23 secs) is looking tall even to his compatriot and reigning Asian champion Jiang Fan. Kuwait’s Abdulaziz Al-Mandeel will be another hurdler having podium ambitions.

 

Joseph Abraham, the Indian gold medalist in 400m hurdles four years ago, is not in a good shape to defend his title in Incheon. China’s Cheng Wen (49.28 PB) is expected to log horn with Dmitriy Koblov of Kazakhstan, Takayuki Kishimoto of Japan and Ali Khamis Abbas of Bahrain for the top honours.

 

17th Asian Games – SPRINTS – MIDDLE DISTANCES – Redemption time for Sajjad Moradi

Iran’s Sajjad Moradi is a defending champion in 800m and silver medalist in 1500m at Guangzhou. He went to participate in the Asian Games as a junior 12 years ago at Busan 2002, where he finished eleventh in 1500m. After a fortnight he clinched a silver in 800 and bronze in 1500m in the continental junior championships at Bangkok. He had a forgettable outing in Doha four years later as he could not finish his race in 1500m final. However learning from his experience Moradi posted a personal best 3:37.09 to gain a silver medal behind Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Othman Shahween (3:36.49) in 2010. Two days later at Guangzhou he had emerged as a ‘champion’ in 800m with a noteworthy 1:45.45.

It was in Incheon, Moradi clocked his best time in the two lap race – 1:45.45 – with a bronze medal in Asian championships. The Iranian once again finished outside the podium in last year’s Asian championships at Pune – 4th in 1500m and 8th in 800m. Qatar’s Abdulrahman Musaeb Bala emerged triumphant in Pune and is leading the Incheon start-lists for 800m with a superior 1:44.03 timed at Rieti where he recorded his personal best 1:43.93 last year. Also in Incheon will be Bahrain’s Youssef Saad Kamel (1:42.79 PB) and Saudi runner Abdulaziz (1:44.30) will make things difficult for Moradi. Two other Bahraini athletes – Benson Seurei (3:34.24 SB) and Rashid Ramzi (3:29.14 PB) – are ready to engage in a three-cornered contest with Moradi in the metric mile!