New Delhi: Asian Games is around the corner and India is gearing up to send its largest-ever contingent of 656 athletes for representing India in the marquee event. The event is scheduled to start from September 23 but the football event will begin on September 19 where India will take hosts China for the opener clash.
The games will be played across 56 venues with 481 gold medals on offer. Team India is aiming for more than 100 medals from the event in Hangzhou.
The men’s and women’s cricket teams, led by Ruturaj Gaikwad and Harmanpreet Kaur respectively, will be making their debut at the continental level event this year. The women’s team will start its campaign on September 21 and the final will be on September 25.
After this, the men’s cricket teams will begin their campaigns from September 27 and the title clash will take place on October 7. Indian men’s team will play its first match on October 3.
For track and field events, there will be 68 players who will represent India that will be country’s largest representation in the sport. Olympic and World Champion Neeraj Chopra will be in the limelight for the event, aiming to replicate his gold-winning heroics in Jakarta in 2018.
Athletics competitions will be held from September 29 to October 5 with the men’s javelin throw final on October 4. Its biggest attraction will be India’s ‘Golden Boy’ Neeraj.
Here are the top five medal contenders for India:
Neeraj Chopra – Javelin Throw
When it comes to the gold medal contenders, Neeraj Chopra undoubtedly tops the list. The Tokyo Olympics gold medallist is in the form of his life. He is the first Asian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in his event as well as the first Asian to win gold at the World Championship.
Mirabai Chanu – Weightlifting
India weightlifter Mirabai Chanu will also look to clinch the gold medal in the Asian Games 2023. The 29-year-old athlete will be competing the 49kg category and her biggest challenge will be China’s Jiang Huihua, who recently won the World Championships.
Bajrang Punia – Wrestling
Experienced Bajrang Punia would be aiming to repeat the last heroics as he was the only gold medallist for India in the previous edition of the Asian Games. Bajrang has secured back-to-back gold medals in the Commonwealth Games, now the nation’s wrestling hopes rest on the shoulders of the 29-year-old grappler.
Nikhat Zareen – Boxing
For Boxing, all Indians will be rooting for the young Nikhat Zareen in the Asian Games 2023. The 27-year-old boxer is emerged as the best boxer over a period of two years with her impressive performances. Earlier this year, Nikhat successfully defended her world crown, cementing her status as the favourite entering the Asian Games.
Indian Cricket Team
Indian cricket team led by captain Ruturaj Gaikwad will be the strongest contenders for Gold as they are the most experienced side in the tournament. With the shorter boundaries in Hangzhou, team India can easily win the gold.