Korea looks to win 65 Asiad golds

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Korea looks to win 65 Asiad golds


The Korean Asian Games delegation departs for Guangzhou, China at Incheon International Airport yesterday morning. [NEWSIS]

Korea is looking for a repeat performance to maintain its spot as the second best in Asia at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. Having placed second overall in three consecutive Asian Games, Korea - with 806 athletes competing in 41 events - is looking to earn at least 65 golds in Guangzhou, China.

“We will earn more than 65 gold medals to secure a second place finish,” said Lee Ki-heung, head of the Korean Asian Games delegation. “We have traditionally been strong in events like taekwondo, archery and wrestling, but baduk [Korean chess], dance, billiards and bowling, as well as other events, will also help our medal hunt.”

A portion of the Korean delegation departed for Guangzhou from Incheon International Airport yesterday. Group-stage football matches kicked off on Monday night, with the opening ceremony set for Friday at 9 p.m. Medal competitions start Saturday afternoon.

Some familiar faces will lead the way for Korea. Swimmer Park Tae-hwan, who emerged as a star four years ago in Doha, Qatar will be gunning for four gold medals and is eagerly looking to reclaim his status as the best swimmer in Asia.

“I am not thinking about focusing on any one event,” said Park at the send-off ceremony at the National Training Center on Monday. “I will give it my all.”

Park will face tough competition from Zhang Lin and other world-class Chinese swimmers who will have strong support from the home crowd. But Park isn’t concerned about his rivals.

“I don’t necessarily see it as a battle against other competitors,” Park said. “But I need to do my best and if I’m able to do that, I can get good results.”

Jang Mi-ran will also be looking to thwart Chinese weightlifters, led by Meng Suping, to redeem herself of a third-place finish at the World Weightlifting Championships in Turkey in September.

Having earned a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jang had been aiming for her fifth consecutive world title in Turkey as she prepared for the Asiad, but injuries hampered her performance. She has yet to win an Asiad gold medal.

“I’ve been training on a consistent basis and my back feels a lot better,” Jang said. “I’ve always tried to beat my personal best in each competition I’ve entered, and I will be looking to set a new world record at the 2010 Asian Games.”

The national baseball team, which includes star players like Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians and Lee Dae-ho of the Lotte Giants, is going after its third gold medal and first since the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

Jin Jong-oh will have a good shot at delivering Korea’s first gold on opening day in the 50-meter air pistol event. Jin is favored again after winning gold in the same event at the 2008 Olympics.

Hwang Hee-tae will lead the way for the judo team on opening day, with Kim Jae-bum and Wang Ki-chun also favored to place first in their respective weight divisions on later days.

By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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