Continental shifts

The Asian Games begin in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang on Saturday, providing Indian sport a bracing opportunity to prove its composite progress at the global level. While confined to competition from within Asia, the Asiad is keenly contested, involving some of the best sportspersons in their respective disciplines. China continues to be the behemoth, and it is a pointer to its overall excellence that having finished at the top of the table in the last edition, in 2014, at South Korea’s Incheon, it also secured the third highest number of gold medals in the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro. In fact, South Korea and Japan, which also finished in the top three at Incheon, were among the leading ten at the Olympics. (In an ongoing burst of sporting diplomacy, South Korean and North Korean athletes will march behind a common flag in Indonesia.) In the last edition, India finished eighth, with a tally of 57 medals, including 11 golds. This time around, expectations are high, given a line-up that includes badminton’s World Championships runner-up P.V. Sindhu, Commonwealth Games and former junior World champion javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra, 400 m under-20 world champion Hima Das, and shooters Manu Bhaker and Elavenil Valarivan.

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