5 stars to light up Asian Games

AFP
The Asian Games, the world's second largest multi-sports event, begin this week. Here are five global stars who can shine at the continental showpiece in Jakarta and Palembang.
AFP

The Asian Games, the world’s second largest multi-sports event, begin this week. Here are five global stars who can shine at the continental showpiece in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

Su Bingtian, athletics

The Chinese flyer is in the form of his life and ready to cement his status as Asia’s fastest man.

Su stormed to a 100 meters personal best of 9.91sec in Madrid as recently as June 22 and proved it was no fluke by clocking the same time in Paris a week later. Those runs came hot on the heels of Su’s wind-assisted 9.90 in Eugene in May, and the 28-year-old starts as a hot favorite in Jakarta after equalling the Asian record of Nigerian-born Qatari Femi Ogunode, who ran 9.91 in 2016.

Ogunode beat Su to the gold four years ago in Incheon but has failed to dip below 10 seconds this season. Su’s greatest moment came in 2015 when he ran a storming third leg as China claimed silver in the 4x100m World Championships in Beijing behind Usain Bolt’s Jamaica.

Kento Momota, badminton

The newly crowned world champion from Japan is making up for lost time after a gambling scandal that threatened to wreck his career.

The 23-year-old beat Chinese No. 1 Shi Yuqi 21-11, 21-13 in Nanjing last week to become the first Japanese man to win a singles world title. He will head to Jakarta as favorite for gold as he aims to take the mantle from Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and China’s Lin Dan, who have dominated the sport.

Joseph Schooling, swimming

Schooling pulled off one of the biggest surprises in swimming history by beating the great Michael Phelps in the American’s final individual race, the Rio 2016 100m butterfly final, to win Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal.

Four years ago in Incheon Schooling took three butterfly medals — gold in the 100m, silver in the 50m and bronze in the 200m. The 22-year-old is aiming for five gongs in Jakarta.

Nicol David, squash

The Penang-born superstar is in the twilight of her career but will be eyeing another glorious title to add her tally of four individual golds, two team golds and one individual silver at the past five Asiads stretching back 20 years.

David stunned the world of squash when she won her first Asian Games gold as a 14-year-old in 1998, and went on to assume legendary status by spending a record 108 months as world number one from August 2006 to September 2015.

Son Heung-min, soccer

Tottenham has agreed a deal with the South Korean Football Association which will see Son miss the first two matches at the Asian Cup in January in exchange for releasing him for the Asiad.

If Son can guide his country to a repeat of its 2014 games triumph he would be rewarded with an exemption from the 21 months of compulsory military service that he would be required to begin before his 28th birthday in July 2020.

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