Monday, August 2, 2010

Countdown begins to Asian Games

The coat of arms of South KoreaImage via Wikipedia
SEOUL, Aug. 2 (Yonhap) -- With the Guangzhou Asian Games about 100 days away, South Korea is reaffirming its goal of a second place finish the medal standing over Japan.

   The multi-sports event, scheduled to be held in the Chinese city from Nov. 12-27 under the theme of "Thrilling Games and Harmonious Asia," is expected to draw about 12,000 athletes and staff from 45 Asian countries to compete for 476 gold medals in 42 events.

   Three new sports -- cricket, dance sports, and dragon boat -- offering a total of 18 gold medals, will be introduced at Guangzhou this year.

   South Korea, which plans to send about 900 athletes for 41 games, aims to win the second spot in the overall medal standing for the fourth consecutive time.

   The country has consistently held the No. 2 spot since the 1986 Bangkok Asian Games, while Japan has stayed in third place during the period, except in 1994 when it also came in second at the Asian Games held in its city of Hiroshima.

   South Korea expects to earn more gold medals in Guangzhou than the 58 golds it acquired four years ago, to confirm itself as Asia's second biggest sports country following China.

   "In Guangzhou, South Korean athletes will take part in 41 events, four more than in Doha. Therefore, we can win more golds," said an official for the Korea Olympic Committee (KOC).

   In some events, national players have yet to be determined, he said.

   The country's gold medal forecast will be announced when the roster for the Asian Games is finalized on Sept. 30.

   If past records are any indicators, South Korea will continue to perform strong in wrestling, archery, bowling, cycling, judo, shooting and taekwondo, a Korean traditional martial art, at the international competition.

   Wrestlers and cyclists brought home five golds each, while taekwondo players claimed nine golds at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.

   If these athletes perform as they did in Doha four years ago, South Korea will easily claim the second spot for the fourth consecutive time, the official said.

   Strong medal hopefuls include Olympic medalist Park Tae-hwan, world champion Jang Mi-ran of weightlifting and promising rhythmic gymnast Shin Soo-ji.

   This year's games will also be an early peek of the next Asian Games in 2014 set to take place in Incheon, South Korea.

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