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Asiad 2023: A look at India's biggest medal prospects for Mission Hangzhou

India will be sending its biggest-ever contingent of 655 athletes to the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou. The country will be vying for top honours across 39 sporting disciplines

Asian Games 2023, Asian Games Hangzhou 2022

Asian Games 2023, Asian Games Hangzhou 2022

Press Trust of India New Delhi
India will be sending its biggest ever contingent of 655 athletes to the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou. The country will be vying for top honours across 39 sporting disciplines, including individual and team events.
While 'Aab ki Baar, Sau Paar' (which translates to crossing 100 medals this time) has been the catchline, the fans and the sporting establishment would like to temper its expectations but with an eye to surpass the tally of 70 medals won in the previous edition in Jakarta and Palembang.
The PTI looks at some of India's brightest medal prospects in the quadrennial extravaganza starting September 23.
*ATHLETICS

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Men's Javelin Throw:

Neeraj Chopra

The 25-year-old Olympic and world champion is the best bet for a gold in athletics. Having achieved legendry status, defending the gold he won in 2018 could be a cakewalk for Neeraj.
Pakistan's World Championships silver medallist Arshad Nadeem, who claimed a bronze in the 2018 Asian Games, will be his main rival in Hangzhou.
Kishore Jena

With a personal best throw of 84.77m while finishing a creditable fifth in his maiden World Championships last month, the 28-year-old is a medal contender. He has the third best throw among Asians this season.
Men's Shot Put:

Tajinderpal Singh Toor

The 28-year-old is the favourite to defend the gold medal he won in 2018. He is the lone Indian Asian record holder in individual events. Toor's only concern is that he has been injury prone in the last few years.
The burly Punjab athlete re-wrote his own Asian record by hurling the iron ball to a distance of 21.77m while winning gold in the National Inter-State Championships in June.
Men's Long Jump:

Murali Sreeshankar

Sreeshankar will be aiming to redeem himself after his disappointing show at the World Championships. His personal and season's best of 8.41m puts him in the fourth spot in the world and second among Asians behind compatriot Jeswin Aldrin. Chinese Taipei's Asian champion Lin Yu-Tang (SB: 8.40m) and China's Wang Jianan (8.34m) will be his main rivals, besides Aldrin.
Jeswin Aldrin

He was the world season leader before the World Championships with his national record jump of 8.41m early in the season. But he was inconsistent throughout the season with fitness issues also dogging him, due to which he pulled out of the Asian Championships. He is still the season leader among Asians and third in the world.
Men's Triple Jump:

Praveen Chitravel

Season leader among Asians and number 6 in the world with his national record 17.37m jump, the 22-year-old is a medal contender. But he has not touched 17m in his last three events, including the World Championships in August where he failed to make it to the finals, with a disappointing 16.38m jump in the qualification round.
Men's 1500m:

Ajay Kumar Saroj

He is the reigning Asian champion and second best timer in the continent this season. He clocked a personal best of 3 minutes 38.24 seconds in the World Championships in August.
Men's 3000m Steeplechase:

Avinash Sable

He can be considered a sure-shot medal contender. Sable, a 2022 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, holds the national record of 8 minutes 11.20 seconds. His season's best time is 8:11.63, placing him in second position among Asians behind Miura Ryuji (SB: 8:09.91) of Japan.
Men's 4x400m Relay:

With the Asian record time of 2 minutes 59.05 seconds in the qualification round of the World Championships in August, India is a gold medal contender in the men's 4x400m relay. The Indian quartet's time is also the eighth best in the world this season. The country though finished second behind Sri Lanka in the Asian Championships in July with a time of 3:01.80.
Women's 100m Hurdles:

Jyothi Yarraji

The country's first ever Asian champion in 100m hurdles, Yarraji is a sure-shot bet for a medal among women. She won the Asian Championships gold in July with a time of 13.09 seconds. The 24-year-old national record holder -- with 12.78 seconds -- is Asian number 2 this season, behind Wu Yanni of China, whose season best timing is 12.76s.
Mixed 4x400m Relay:

Gold winner in 2018 Asian Games, India is again title contender after winning the event in the Asian Championships in July with a time of 3 minutes 14.70 seconds, the best in the continent this season.
Women's Long Jump:

Shaili Singh

The 19-year-old long jumper was a silver medallist in the Asian Championships in July but has been a bit inconsistent. She has not been able to hit top form after her personal best jump of 6.76m in April and 6.65m in May in an event in Japan.
Women's 3000m Steeplechase:

Parul Chaudhary

Number 2 in Asia with a season best -- and national record -- time of 9:15.31, a medal is easily in her grasp. She will be up against Bahrain's Winfred Mutile Yavi, who is the favourite for the gold with her time of 8:54.29.
Women's 400m Hurdles:

Vithya Ramraj

She is Asian number 2 this season with her recent 55.43 seconds effort, one-hundredth of a second less than the legendary P T Usha's national record. Ramraj is number 2 among Asians in the season's best time chart and a big medal contender.
Women's 4x400m Relay:

Not the dominant team of the yore but India can still win a medal in this event. The Indian team is also number 1 in this event in Asia this season with the 3:30.41 seconds it clocked in July in a meet in Sri Lanka.
Heptathlon:

Swapna Barman

A big medal contender, she will be defending her title. She was beaten by continental leader Ekaterina Voronina of Uzbekistan in the Asian Championships.
*ARCHERY

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Compound Team:

Indian compound archery is on a high following a hat-trick of gold medals at the World Championships in August. Boasting the reigning world champions in Ojas Deotale (men's) and Aditi Swami (women's), India will be a strong contender to make the finals in team and mixed pair events.
Women's Compound:

Jyothi Surekha Vennam

A Limca Book swimming record holder at four years, the world No. 4 is the most accomplished women's compound archer, and will fuel India's dream of a maiden Asian Games individual gold medal in her third appearance.
The 27-year-old has been on a high since her comeback last year, winning six gold, one silver, and three bronze medals in the World Cup and World Championships.
Aditi Swami

The daughter of a school teacher in Maharashtra, Aditi has been unstoppable this year. She first won the youth (Under-18) world title in July, and a month later, the 17-year-old replicated the success at the senior level, becoming the youngest ever world champion by defeating her 'mentor' Jyothi in the semifinal.
Men's Compound:

Abhishek Verma

Winner of a team gold and two silver medals at the Games, the 34-year-old will look to sign off from the continental showpiece on a high.
Verma may have been a shadow of his past of late but his wealth of experience will come in handy if they are to win a second team gold in the men's compound section.
Ojas Deotale and Prathamesh Jawkar

The two young compound archers from Maharashtra are making all the right moves this year. The 21-year-old Deotale became the world champion with a string of perfect scores in Berlin. Jawkar, 20, is in the peak form of his career, upsetting world No. 1 Mike Schloesser twice in four months. Both of them will be strong final candidates.
Men's Recurve:

Dhiraj Bommadevara

The Army man, who stunned Korean double Olympic gold medallist Kim Woo-jin in the World Cup Final recently, offers a fresh ray of hope amid the gloom that surrounds the Olympic discipline of recurve archery in India.
Dhiraj had a dream run in the World Cup Final but narrowly missed out on a medal. Earlier this year, he ended India's drought of an individual World Cup medal when he won a bronze at the Antalya stage.
*BOXING

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Women's:

Nikhat Zareen

The Telangana pugilist is India's brightest medal prospect from the boxing contingent. Zareen has enjoyed an indomitable run in the past two years in flyweight (51 kg) category.
She has won the world championship twice, added two Strandja Memorial titles, and a Commonwealth Games gold medal. She will be eager to add yet another gold to her kitty and will be even more pumped to stand atop the podium given that the Asian Games doubles up as an Olympic qualifier.
Lovlina Borgohain

The Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist is still learning the tricks of the trade in the middle-weight category having bulked up from 69kg. Winning the Asian and World championships in her new 75kg category has boosted her confidence and the Assam Boxer has been working extensively on increasing her power.
At the Asian Games, if she manages to overcome the Chinese threat, she is expected to easily reach the final and win gold.
Men:

Deepak Bhoria

Armed with a lethal left hook, the pugilist from Hisar, who competes in 51kg, has a penchant for fearless boxing and defeating some of the giants of the game. He produced one of the best performances for India in recent years when he upstaged Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist and former world champion Saken Bibossinov at the World Championships in May.
Competing in his maiden Asian Games, Bhoria will be keen to leave his mark in the tournament by finishing on the podium.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sep 17 2023 | 11:39 PM IST

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