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2023 Asian Games: For Some It’s Last Dance, for Many - Onset of Lustrous Careers

The 19th Asiad will witness the farewell of several legendary athletes & mark the end of their illustrious careers.

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Asian Games
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With a strong contingent comprising 655 athletes across 40 out of 61 sports, India’s squad at the 2023 Asian Games is poised for an impressive showing in China’s Hangzhou from 23 September to 8 October. 

Focusing on disciplines like cricket, hockey, archery, chess, wrestling, javelin throw, shooting, and badminton, the athletes will aim at an even higher medal-haul than the previous edition of the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018 when India won its largest-ever tally of 70 medals, including 16 golds, to place eighth overall.

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While India’s squad boasts a promising crop of young athletes like Aditi Gopichand Swami, Treesha Jolly and R Praggnanandhaa who are set to make a significant impact, the 19th Asiad will witness the farewell performances of several legendary athletes, and mark the end of their illustrious careers.

Individuals who have been synonymous with excellence in their respective sports like Tennis ace Rohan Bopanna, Ankita Raina, Hockey great P R Sreejesh, TT legend Sharath Kamal, Wrestling veteran Bajrang Punia, Squash star Dipika Pallikal, and Discus thrower Seema Punia will be looking to bid adieu to the Asian Games on a high note.

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As the athletes, backed by months and years of rigorous training and support, are eager to make their mark on the continental stage, here’s a look at top medal prospects for India:

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Neeraj Chopra

Following a silver medal in the Diamond League Final in Eugene, the Haryana athlete will aim to defend his Asian Games gold medal from Jakarta in 2018. He had topped the podium in Indonesia with a massive throw of 88.06m. Neeraj has since won the World, Olympic, and Diamond League titles. He has a staggering personal best of 89.94m, while his best throw this year was 88.67m in Doha.

When can you see him in action - Athletics competitions will begin from 29 September to 5 October, with the men's javelin throw final on 4 October.

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Rohan Bopanna

The 43-year-old recently won a Davis Cup tie with the Indian team and will look to emulate his success in his last appearance at the Asian Games. The veteran has had a fantastic year, winning ATP Tour titles in Doha and Indian Wells earlier this year alongside Australian partner Matthew Ebden. The pair also reached the Wimbledon semifinals before finishing runner-up at the US Open, when Bopanna became the Open Era's oldest Grand Slam finalist.

Bopanna, who made his Asian Games debut in 2002, enters the tournament as the defending champion, having won the doubles gold with Divij Sharan in Asiad’s last edition.

When can you see him in action -

24 September 2023 (9:30 AM)

Men’s Doubles – First round, Mixed Doubles – First round


25 September 2023 (7:30 AM)

Men’s Doubles – Second round, Mixed Doubles – Second round


26 September 2023 (7:30 AM)

Mixed Doubles – Second round

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Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty

This unstoppable men's doubles combination has repeatedly demonstrated that they are among the top pairs in the world, winning the Thomas Cup, Swiss Open, Indonesia Open, Korea Open, and the 2023 Asian Championship with the Indian team.

They also won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham before taking bronze in the World Championships for the first time. Before the end of 2022, they added one more championship to their collection: their first-ever BWF World Super 750 title at the French Open.

The pair lost in the round of 16 in the 2018 Asian Games to South Koreans Choi Sol-gyu and Kang Min-hyuk, but this time the Indian duo will be aiming for gold.


When can you see them in action -

29 October 2023, Men’s team quarterfinals – 2.30 PM Onwards

30 October, Men’s team semifinals* – 2.30 PM Onwards

31 October, Men’s team final* – 2.30 PM Onwards

2 October, Individual and doubles Round 1 – 6.30 AM Onwards

3 October, Individual and doubles Round 2* – 6.30 AM Onwards

4 October, Individual and doubles Round 3 and Round 2*- 6.30 AM Onwards

5 October, Individual and doubles quarterfinals – 6.30 AM Onwards

6 October, Individual and doubles semifinals – 6.30 AM Onwards

7 October, Individual and doubles final – 11.30 AM Onwards

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Jyothi Surekha Vennam

The 27-year-old Arjuna Awardee from Vijayawada got the 2023 season off to a terrific start by matching the qualifying score (713) at the Archery World Cup Stage I 2023. She won a number of silver and bronze medals at the World Championships over the years, but in 2023 she finally broke the tie to win her first gold medal and will seek to replicate the success at the mega event.

Jyothi Surekha Vennam, Parneet Kaur, and Aditi Gopichand's women's team defeated top-seeded Mexico to win the gold medal.

When can you see her in action -

1 October, Compound rankings round – 6.30 AM onwards

2 October, Compound mixed, women’s elimination round – 6.30 AM onwards

Compound individual elimination round – 9.45 AM onwards

3 October, Compound individual quarterfinals, semifinals – 6.10 AM Onwards

4 October, Compound Mixed Team Quarterfinals, Semifinals, final – 6.10 AM Onwards

5 October, Women’s Compound team quarterfinals, semifinals, final– 6.10 AM Onwards

7 October, Compound individual medal matches – 6.10 AM Onwards

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Mirabai Chanu

Mirabai has to her name two gold and one silver medal from the Commonwealth Games, a World Championship title in 2017, and her greatest achievement is a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Chanu’s main competition at the 2023 Asian Games is the reigning Olympic champion Hou Zhihui and World champion Jiang Huihua. While they would give her a stiff competition, the India ace will be in the fray for gold.


When can you see her in action - 

September 30, Saturday

Women’s 49kg Group B 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM

Women’s 49kg Group A 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM

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R Praggnanandha & D Gukesh

Prodigies R Praggnanandhaa and D Gukesh will lead India’s charge in the board game. Praggnanandhaa scripted history by becoming the youngest ever finalist (he lost the final to Magnus Carlsen) at the world chess championship and only the second Indian after Viswanathan Anand. While D Gukesh , who was also defeated by Carlsen in the world championship this year, is another rising star in the world of chess. He recently surpassed Anand as India's top chess player, and it was the first time in 37 years Anand has been dethroned.

When can you see them in action - 24 September to 7 October (4 events)

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Cricket

Both the Indian men's and women's cricket teams will make their Asian Games debut in Hangzhou and will be big favourites to win the gold medal. The women's team, led by Smriti Mandhana, is fully staffed and, like the men, is anticipated to win gold.


When can you see them in action - 


Women’s Cricket -
India vs TBC Quarter Final, 21 September, 6:30 am

                                India vs TBC Semi final, 24 September, 6:30 am

                                Medal Matches, 25 September, 6:30 am

Men’s Cricket - India vs TBC, 3 October

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Hockey

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The Indian men's hockey team will attempt to put the sting of the bronze medal from Jakarta 2018 behind them. Since then, the Indian team has broken a 41-year wait for an Olympic medal by capturing bronze in Tokyo in 2021, followed by silver at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year. The Indian team just won its fourth Asian Champions Trophy title, defeating Malaysia in the final in Chennai.


The last time the men won the Asian Games was in 2014, and the last time the women’s team won was in 1982. However, both teams are in terrific shape heading into Hangzhou and will be looking to capture gold this time around.


When can you see them in action -

Men’s Hockey - September 24, 26, 28, 30 and October 02, 2023.

Women’s Hockey - September 27, 29, October 01 and 03, 2023.

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As our athletes take the centre stage, expect them to deliver exhilarating moments and, perhaps, even spring a few surprises in their pursuit of glory.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Rohan Bopanna   HS Prannoy   Neeraj Chopra 

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