Reality check awaits as India eye Asiad glory after topsy-turvy build-up

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Jakarta, August 17: A trial by fire for the youngsters and a battle to stay relevant for some ageing superstars but above all, the 18th Asian Games will be a reality check for India’s athletes after the Commonwealth Games high.
The build-up has been signature chaos with complaints and even court cases about selection matters, usual controversies over the size of the contingent which came to 804 — athletes and officials combined, and not to forget, the credentials of the travelling officials.
But as has been the case with Indian sports for the past several decades, the athletes would try to ensure that focus remains firmly on the results once the competition gets underway after the customary opening ceremony here tomorrow.
There was quite literally a gold rush at Gold Coast CWG where India notched up their second best medal tally of all time.
But most athletes and their coaches have already acknowledged that the Asiad is going to be a different ball game given the presence of powerhouses such as China, Japan and Korea.
However, that has dampened neither the excitement nor the expectations.
India had equalled their best performance in terms of medals won in the 2014 Asiad with a total of 57, including 11 gold, and the contingent of 572 athletes this time would be hoping to better that.
The contenders range from a a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Haryana in Manu Bhaker (shooting) to the proven-but-struggling Sushil Kumar (wrestling) to the in-form and consistently rising to new heights, Neeraj Chopra (Javelin Throw).
Then there are the likes of Hima Das, a sprint sensation who has raised hopes by becoming the first Indian woman to claim a world championships gold, albeit in the under-20 competition. (PTI)