Feature: Chinese athletes making last push ahead of Asian Games

(Xinhua) 16:17, September 11, 2023

BEIJING, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- With less than two weeks to go until the Asian Games in Hangzhou, more than 900 registered Chinese athletes across a wide range of sports are making final preparations as they seek to showcase their best form at home.

The 19th Asian Games, which will open on September 23, is set to be the largest edition ever, with 12,500 athletes from 45 countries and regions competing in 40 sports, 61 disciplines, and 481 events.


Chinese athletes have always dominated in table tennis. And for the all-conquering squad who grabbed five golds at the 2018 Asian Games, the upcoming Games will be their last comprehensive event before the 2024 Olympic Games.

"Our players may compete in different events at the Paris Olympic Games, so the Asian Games will be a good test for them on how to adjust themselves between different categories and maintain fitness," said Li Sun, head coach of China's table tennis team.

"Now I'm going all out to prepare for the Asian Games, hoping to show my best at that time," said China's star paddler Sun Yingsha who will participate in the women's singles.

China's diving squad, another perennially dominant team on the Olympic stage, has been seizing the last moments to fine tune their form ahead of the Asian Games, after they took home 12 golds from the World Aquatics Championships in July.

"We are all fighting for one goal, and that is to achieve good results on home soil," said 18-year-old Chen Yuxi.

Swimming Olympic champion Zhang Yufei, who stunned the world by winning all nine events she competed in at the FISU World University Games, said that she aims to win seven golds at the Asian Games.

"I hope to surpass my own record set in the World Championships at the Games," said the 25-year-old. "The Asian Games is a perfect chance for me. Let's just look forward to a new record."

China's women's basketball team, who ended archrivals Japan's run of five straight women's Asia Cup titles this July, is also looking to defend their glory at the Asian Games.

"Asian competitions are tough, and we should focus on our daily training and fight for the best result," said head coach Zheng Wei.


Unlike the women's squad, China's men's basketball team is pinning their hopes on the Asian Games to boost their morale, as they flopped at the recent FIBA World Cup and were unable to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

"We have to fight step by step and we need to be more united to overcome the difficulties. It's a new stage and we are ready for the new challenges," said guard Zhao Rui of the upcoming Games.

Led by star forward Wang Shuang, China's women's national football team announced a 23-player roster for the Asian Games. Before heading to Hangzhou on September 19, they have been at a training camp in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province.

The Steel Roses made the final but were edged by Japan at the previous Asian Games, and Japan and South Korea are undoubtedly among the favorites in Hangzhou.

Olympic champion Chen Yufei was bested by her Japanese opponent in the women's singles semifinals at badminton's China Open this month, and mixed doubles world No. 1 pair Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong fell to their South Korean rivals in the quarterfinals.

Chinese shuttlers are expected to rewrite the story at the upcoming Games as they will also face strong opponents including world champion An Se-young. "I will try my best to prepare for the Games. Only Chen Yufei can beat Chen Yufei," said Hangzhou native Chen Yufei who spearheaded the 20-player badminton squad.

Racing back-to-back in an intensive competition schedule from the Budapest World Championships, China's track and field stars, who notched only two bronze medals, are eager to put on a show at home.

Sprinter Xie Zhenye, who finished eighth in the men's 100-meter sprint in Budapest, is aiming for a gold medal at the Asian Games. "As we continue to troubleshoot, I still have some time to hone my skills for the Asian Games," Xie said after the World Championships.

Despite a lackluster performance in the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, China's men's volleyball team hopes to excel at the Asian Games. "We lost a lot of games, but we also gained experience. We will improve our game and try to have better performances in Hangzhou," said head coach Wu Sheng.

For rising tennis star Wu Yibing, who was born and grew up in Hangzhou, the will to win gold at the Asian Games is even stronger. "I hope to win the Asian gold at home," said the 23-year-old, who finished runner-up at the 2018 Asian Games.

Zheng Qinwen made the US Open women's singles quarterfinals in September, setting her best record in a Grand Slam tournament. She is now looking to represent China at the Asian Games.

"It will be my first Asian Games, and my first time playing at home in front of a home crowd since becoming a professional tennis player. I'm really looking forward to it," said the 20-year-old.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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