Friday, November 12, 2010

Taiwan has high hopes for 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games

Taipei, Nov. 11 (CNA) Taiwan is hoping to break its "China curse" and win more gold medals at the upcoming 2010 Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou, China, than the nine it won four years ago in Doha, Qatar.

Under the name "Chinese Taipei," Taiwan is sending its largest ever delegation to the Nov. 12-27 competition comprising 42 categories, with 396 athletes in the record 569-member delegation.

The Sports Affairs Council (SAC), Taiwan's top sporting authority, declined to say how many golds Taiwan is hoping to win, but the delegation's deputy leader, Tsai Szu-chueh, said the goal is to perform better than four years ago, implying at least 10 first places.

But, having never won a gold at any major international competition held in China -- including the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, 2001 World University Games and 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics -- Taiwan will have to break its inexplicable China jinx to reach that goal.

Taiwan is optimistic of bringing home golds in a number of less popular sports, among them soft tennis and roller sports. It is also looking to defend its title in baseball, which is expected to draw enormous attention from local fans.

Tsai listed baseball, billiard sports, karate, taekwondo, tennis, soft tennis and roller sports as being among the nation's top prospects for gold.

Having recently reached a career-high ranking of world No. 33, Lu Yen-shun is leading Taiwan's challenge in men's tennis, while Chan Yung-jan and Chuang Chia-jung are hoping to win a medal in the women's doubles.

Soft tennis team coach Yu Sung-ken said his players aimed to repeat the triple-gold performance of 2006.

Similarly in roller sports, the team led by Huang Yu-ting and Lo Wei-lin, which garnered three gold medals at the Asian Championship in July, targets the same number of gold in Guangzhou.

Despite failing to recruit Major League Baseball players, such as Nationals' right-handed pitcher Chien-ming Wang and Dodgers' reliever Kuo Hung-chih, Taiwan's team of minor leaguers and local professionals is hoping to retain the No. 1 spot it won by defeating Japan in the final in Doha.

South Korea is expected to be another tough opponent in Guangzhou, but team manager Yeh Chih-hsien says team morale and the chemistry between players are both excellent.

Gold medal hopes in badminton rest on the combined abilities of Chien Yu-chin and Cheng Wen-hsing, currently the world's top-ranked women's doubles players.

Taiwan is seeking to regain former glory in a number of categories, such as taekwondo, where no young hot shots have emerged since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and archery, in which one bronze and two silver medals were garnered in Doha. Having left Beijing empty-handed, the team has since hired a former South Korean national archery coach to help lead them out of the slump.

In basketball, Taiwan is hopeful of finishing among the top three women's teams, while the men hope to erase the nightmarish memory of Doha, where the team finished an all-time-worst eighth place.

Despite participating as "Chinese Taipei," the team will be 36th in the alphabetically ordered opening ceremony parade, due to the abbreviation "TPE."

Baseball player Lin Chih-sheng has been named as the delegation's flag bearer for Friday's opening ceremony.

Taiwan had its best Asian Games results in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1998, when it finished with 19 gold, 17 silver and 41 bronze medals. It garnered 10 golds, 17 silvers and 25 bronzes in Busan, Korea, in 2002, and 9 golds, 10 silvers and 27 bronzes in Doha in the last edition of the quadrennial event. (By Chris Wang) enditem/MH

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