2014 Incheon Asian Games – 10 stars to watch out for
The 2014 Asian Games start in Incheon, South Korea, on 19 September. Watch out for these star performers.
Zhang Jike, China
The current Olympic and World singles table tennis champion, Zhang Jike achieved a career grand slam by winning the three top contests in the sport — WTTC, the World and Olympics — consecutively. The 26-year-old’s toughest competition in the 2014 Asian Games is likely to come from fellow Chinese table tennis stars. A very quick player, Jike’s backhand technique is unmatched.
Li Xuerui, China
Gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics and the current World no. 1 in badminton, Li Xuerui would hope to keep up her brilliant run in 2014 which has seen her win the Indonesia, Japan, and Malaysia Opens. Born in Chongqing, China, the 23-year old’s philosophy of success is: “Perseverance is gold. And success is to be excellent in everything I do.” She sure has been following that mantra.
Park Tae-hwan, South Korea
The South Korean champion freestyle swimmer won three gold, one silver and three bronze medals at the 2006 Asian Games, and 3 gold, 2 silver, and 2 bronze at the 2010 Asian Games. Tae-hwan has also bagged an Olympic gold. An interesting aspect of his training is that he reportedly crowd-sourced around 70 million won ($60,000) in 2013 in order to train in Australia.
Kohei Uchimura, Japan
Among the greatest gymnasts of all time, Japan’s Kohei Uchimura has awed his opponents by winning four consecutive all-around world titles and an Olympic gold at the 2012 London Olympics, a feat unmatched in the sport. In 2007 he won the gold medal in the floor exercises at the Tianjin world cup. In an interview he said, what set him apart was how he trained and how he thought about his training.
Sushil Kumar, India
India’s two-time individual Olympic medalist, Sushil Kumar has his eyes set firmly on an Asian Games gold medal in Incheon. Kumar, who won the World Wrestling Championships gold in 2010, is also a two-time gold-winner in the Commonwealth Games. After his triumph in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the 74 kg category, the 31-year-old grappler said he was happy at how much Indian wrestling had improved in the last few years.
Serik Sapiyev, Kazakhstan
Gold medalist and winner of the Val Barker Trophy at the 2012 London Olympics, Serik Sapiyev is known to dominate his opponents in the boxing ring. He won the gold in the 2010 Asian Games, beating Uzbekistan’s Uktamjon Rahmonov in the welterweight (69 kg) category. The 30-year-old, who took up boxing at the age of 11, is a hero in his country and has a boxing center named after him.
Chisato Fukushima, Japan
Perhaps the fastest woman in Asia, Chisato Fukushima won the gold in both the 100m and 200m events in the last Asian Games, and holds the Japanese record in both. She will be hoping to repeat her performance in the 2014 Asian Games. The 26-year-old also won four gold in the Asian Athletics Championships in 2009 and 2011.
Ehsan Haddadi, Iran
Gold medalist in the discus throw at the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games, Ehsan Haddadi won bronze at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu. This was followed by a silver at the 2012 London Olympics — Iran’s first ever Olympic medal in athletics. The 29-year-old also has also won the Asian Championships four times.
Wu Minxia, China
The first woman to win a diving gold in three consecutive Olympic Games, Wu Minxia achieved that feat in the 3m women’s synchronized springboard. She won her fourth Olympic gold in the 3m springboard event, her second of the London Olympics. This 28-year-old diver has also won 4 Asian Games gold.
Svetlana Radzivil, Uzbekistan
Radzivil is the Asian Games high jump record-holder and gold medalist. Her personal best jump of 1.98 m in Tashkent in 2008 is an Asian record (though shared with 2 atheletes). The 27-year-old stood second in the Asian championships last year and first in the 2014 Asian indoor championships.