Joseph Schooling the Singapore lad, who became an overnight sensation at the age of 21 by beating the sensational Michael Phelps to gold in the 100m butterfly at the Rio 2016 Olympics, will be one to watch out for at the Asian Games. Schooling’s success was Singapore’s first Olympic gold he has claimed four medals at the last edition of the Asian Games in Incheon and will be looking for a repeat if not more. He will be aiming for medals in the 100m freestyle, 100m and 50m fly, and the 4×100m freestyle and 4×100m medley relays.
China’s 34-year-old badminton ace Lin Dan is Olympic gold medallist in 2008 and 2012 and Asian Games champion in 2010 and 2014. He is making his fifth appearance at an Asiad, but the first since Busan in 2002 where the Chinese legend will not play in the men’s singles.
Lin won a silver at Doha 2006 after losing to Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, but was unbeatable in Guangzhou and Incheon. However, Lin will have to sit out as his world ranking falls behind Chen Long, the 2016 Rio Olympic champion, and emerging star Shi Yuqi, who beat Lin in the round of 16 at the World Championships recently. Lin’s presence in the team will still be a huge boost as they will be facing stiff challenge from the newly-crowned world champion Kento Momota.
South Korea’s Son Heung-Min, the Tottenham midfielder, will be keen to deliver for his team at the Asian Games especially with the motivation of avoiding the 21 months of compulsory military service which all Korean men must begin before their 28th birthday. Son will have to lead his country to gold if he has to get that exemption.
Son was instrumental in knock out reigning world champs Germany at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia. Son participated in Spurs’ opening game of the season as they beat Newcastle 2—1 away before heading for Jakarta.
Su Bingtian of China is currently the fastest sprinter from the Asian continent. In June earlier this year, the 28-year-old Su set a 100m personal best of 9.91s in Madrid before repeating the feat a week later in Paris. He currently shares the fastest time in the 100m in Asia with Qatari Femi Ogunode. However, the biggest challenge for Su at the Asian Games will come from compatriot Xie Zhenye. Xie was part of the 2015 Chinese world championship silver-winning 4×100m relay team alongside Su. He set his personal best of 9.97s earlier this year.
Malaysian 34-year-old star Nicol David may have reached the twilight of her career, but she has ruled the Asian Games for over two decades now. She cannot be written off as she has won six golds (four singles, two team) and have one singles silver to her kitty. She was only 15 when she won her first Asiad title in Bangkok in 1998 and has a whopping eight World Championship titles to her name.
China’s Fan Zhendong, 21, is currently the men’s singles World No 1 and has be on a roll since winning Gold medal at 2018 team world championships. Two years ago in Rio, the youngster from Guangdong was overlooked in a squad packed with superstars — Ma Long, Xu Xin and Zhang Jike. Zhendong will be looking to continue in the same vein and consolidate his position in the team where there is always healthy competition.