Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The A-Z of Asian Games

Participants perform during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Asian Games ot be held in Guangzhou on Friday.
A is for ... Asia

The largest continent, which currently is home to 60 per cent of the world's population, has its sporting extravaganza every four years. This time, Guangzhou will host 45 countries with sportspersons displaying their skills in 42 disciplines. Since 1982, the Asiad are organised by the Olympic Council of Asia. The Games are recognised by the International Olympic Committee and are considered to be the second-largest multi-sport event after the Olympics.
B is for ... Badminton
Badminton is traditionally a Chinese stronghold but on home turf, they could face a tough challenge from India's Saina Nehwal. After the gold medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the Hyderabadi is full of confidence to take on the Chinese in their backyard. Saina is now ranked third in the world but is seeded second for the Games.
C is for ... Cricket
Cricket will make its debut at the Asian Games. India, despite being a cricket powerhouse in Asia, decided against fielding a team at the event. Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh have however, confirmed their participation. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided not to send the Indian team, citing a packed international calendar. Bangladesh will go into the event with their best players while Sri Lanka and Pakistan have decided to field their fringe players.
D is for ... Debut
Amongst the 42 disciplines, five will debut at the Asian Games. Cricket, dance sport, Roller Sports, Dragon Boat and Weiqi will be featured for the first time. Apart from cricket, the other four disciplines are unique to the Games.
E is for ... Expenses
Total expenditure on the Asian Games is estimated to be $17 billion, which also includes that on infrastructure and Games operation. The mayor of Guangzhou, Wan Qingliang, revealed the estimated expenditure last month.
F is for ... Food
The Guangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee will serve East Asian, South-East Asian, South Asian, European and Western fast food. Organisers have also planned to showcase the world-famed Cantonese cuisine of Southern China. They claim that more than 30 per cent of the food served at the Games will be halal food and efforts have been made to study characteristics of halal catering.
G is for... Gagan
The sharpshooter from Hyderabad missed out once again on the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna but responded in a manner befitting champions by winning four gold medals at the recent Commonwealth Games. He even put it across Beijing Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra in the 10m air rifle event. Before that, he secured India's first slot for the London Olympics by clinching a medal at the Munich World Cup. He will be expected to lead India's charge on the shooting range.
H is for ... Hosts
China will host the Asian Games for the second time after the 1990 Beijing edition. The hosts are expected to top the medal tally, just as they did at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where they finished with 101 medals, including 51 gold.
I is for ... India
India have gone into the Asian Games with their largest-ever contingent of 609 athletes. India have so far been part of all the Asian Games, which started in 1951. Out of the 42 disciplines, India will be in action in 35. Gagan Narang will be the flagbearer at the opening ceremony. It was India who had proposed the idea of the Asian Games.
J is for ... Jats
Jats had a major role in India finishing with more than a 100 medals at the Commonwealth Games and pipping England to the second place. There were 50 Jats in the Indian contingent and they won more than a fourth of the country's medals. Discus thrower Krishna Poonia and wrestler Geeta have become stars. They will now have to do likewise in China where the competition will be very tough.
K is for ... Kuwait
Kuwaiti athletes will participate at the Asian Games under the Olympic flag. The International Olympic Committee had earlier this year suspended the Kuwait Olympic Committee due to interference of the government. However, the Kuwaiti athletes have been allowed to take part.
L is for ... Li Na
World No. 11 tennis player Li Na pulled out of the women's singles in order to keep herself in the best physical condition for the coming season. Her withdrawal has come as a big blow to China after World No. 25 Zheng Jie also pulled out.
M is for ... Mascot
Five sporty goats, dubbed "Le Yangyang," are the official mascots of the Asian Games. The five goats -- A Xiang, A He, A Ru, A Yi and Le Yangyang -- are a play on Guangzhou's nickname "City of Gods". The Chinese character "Yang" or "goat" is an auspicious symbol and when read together the Chinese names of the five rams are a message of harmony, blessings, success and happiness. The mascots are expected to play a big role in cheering the spectators at the various venues.
N is for ... Neighbours
Guangzhou's neighbouring cities -- Dongguan, Foshan and Shanwei -- will be co-hosting the Games. The Dongguan Sports Center will see the weightlifting events. The city is seen as the home of the sport in China. Foshan will host boxing and synchronised swimming, while Shanwei will see the sailing competition. The venue hosted the 14th Asian Sailing Championship in March, which was a test event for the Asian Games. All the other events will take place in Guangzhou.
0 is for ... Opening
The opening ceremony of the Games is going to be a gala affair. More than 1,00,000 are expected to attend the ceremony which will reach a billion viewers worldwide. The climax of the ceremony will be just before the lighting of the flame, where four representative singers from the greater China region will stand on stage to signify harmony among Asian countries.
P is for ... Protest
Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) had protested against Guangzhou being the host city for the Asian Games as they thought that China lacked the "moral right" to hold such an important international sporting event. The TYC had made such widespread protests during the Beijing Olympics as well.
Q is for... Qatar
Qatar's capital Doha hosted the 15th edition of the Asian Games in 2006. It was the first time that all 45 member nations of the Olympic Council of Asia took part and 46 disciplines were played at the Asiad. China emerged at the top of the medal's tally with 166 gold while India with 10 gold finished eighth ahead of the hosts. The Games also saw the death of a Korean equestrian athlete who fell off his horse during the cross-country event.
R is for ... Randhir
The Indian Olympic Association secretary general also holds the same position at the Olympic Council of Asia. Randhir Singh was the first Indian shooter to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, when he finished first at the 1978 Bangkok edition.
S is for ... Sunshine Again
The Asian Games' official theme song is Sunshine Again. The song is composed by Li Haiying, chief music director of the Guangzhou Asian Games opening ceremony, and its lyrics are written by Zhu Hai, chief director of creative literature of the opening ceremony. Korean singer-cum-actor Kim Hyun Joong will be singing the song during the opening ceremony.
T is for ... Torch
The Tide was chosen as the design for the Games torch relay. It weighs 98g and is 70cm long. The flame was lit at the Great Wall of China on October 9, 2010 and travelled around the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. A total of 23 cities in the huge country are on the list which the torch will visit with as many as 2,068 torch-bearers.
U is for ... Usha
India's PT Usha has had great success in the Asian Games. She started with two silver medals at the 1982 Asiad. At the 1986 Games, she bagged four gold and a silver. She returned with two silver from the 1990 Games and bagged another in 1994.
V is for ... Venues
There are 53 competition venues and 17 training venues with four of them built outside the Guangdong province. Out of them, 11 competition venues have been newly built while the rest have been renovated. Haixinsha Island will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies.
W is for ... Wushu
The Chinese martial art technique made its debut at Beijing in 1990. Wushu is a collective term to describe boxing, sanshou (free sparring), weapon play and other Chinese kung fu skills. The sport comprises offensive and defensive fighting skills.
X is for ... Xiang
Home hope Liu Xiang will be looking for his third straight gold in the men's 110m hurdles. After a long time out of the game due to injury, the Athens Olympics gold medallist and former world champion will be full of motivation when he takes to the track on home soil.
Y is for ... Yao Ming
The Houston Rockets star will not be on the basketball court and the hosts will face a big task. China are the defending champions but expect a tough fight from Iran and South Korea this time. Yao has been China's leading player at the Olympic Games and the team has struggled without him. He was selected in the NBA All-Star team in each of his first seven seasons but has been dogged with several injuries of late.
Z is for ... Zeeshan
Pakistan has won the men's hockey gold medal at the Asian Games a record seven times. But they have fallen on bad times of late, finishing rock bottom at 12th in the World Cup and sixth at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year. Captain Zeeshan Ashraf will be the man under pressure as he seeks to guide Pakistan back on the road to redemption.
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