Daily Preview: Thursday 21 September
Thursday 21 September sees the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games reach its halfway point with the busiest day on the whole Games schedule.
13 sports will be in action on Thursday, including three that will be making their Ashgabat 2017 Games debut: Equestrian Jumping, Bowling, and Chess. Medal competition will be taking place in nine of the 13 sports on the docket today, with Equestrian Jumping, Belt Wrestling, Billiard Sports, Bowling, Kurash, Muaythai, Taekwondo, Track Cycling, and Weightlifting athletes all looking to take home Ashgabat 2017 medals from today’s contests.
The host Turkmen team will open Thursday’s competition with their dominance atop the medal standings still strong, with 53 golds and a total of 127 medals to their credit thus far.
In today’s action, Chinese players will be looking to flex their superiority when the Chess discipline starts at Ashgabat 2017. The day will include the first two rounds of the premier event – the seven-round Standard Individual contest.
44 men and 39 women players will compete separately, so two sets of medals are at stake. China's Wang Yue and Vietnam's Le Quang Liem are the men's favourites, but grandmasters such as Surya Ganguly (IND), Krishnan Sasikiran (IND), and Lu Shanglei (CHN) could challenge. For the women, Standard Individual grandmaster and current women's world champion Tan Zhongyi (CHN) should be the favourite, though several other ladies do have the capabilities to match her.
Riders from Saudi Arabia are poised to dominate when Equestrian Jumping begins at the Equestrian Centre on the outskirts of Ashgabat. The four-strong Saudi Arabia squad includes three men who are in the top 500 in the world this year, including world No.113 Abdullah Waleed AL Sharbatly (KSA), who was part of the team that won bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, in Bowling competition, hardest to beat may be the Republic of Korea players. As the host nation at the Incheon 2013 4th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, Korea won seven medals - one gold, three silver and three bronze medals, and the country has won 21 medals at the three previous Games, the most of any NOC. Choi Bokeum leads the Korea squad, and has expressed his goal of a double-gold performance at Ashgabat 2017.
Also taking place on Thursday will be the final matches of the opening round in men’s Futsal, as well as men's and women's preliminary round action in 3x3 Basketball. Belt Wrestling will see the men’s -70kg and +90kg classes contested in the Kazakh Kurasi style. The second round of Singles and the first round of Doubles will continue in Indoor Tennis. Three weight classes will fight for medals in Kurash on both the men’s and women’s sides.
A huge day of Muaythai competition will take place on Thursday, with 14 weight classes – five for women, nine for men – facing off for medals. Women’s Taekwondo will see medal competition in three classes, while just the -68kg men will have a chance for Ashgabat 2017 gold. Women’s Team Sprint is the lone Track Cyling medal event on the day. And, finally, weightlifting will see competition in the women’s 63kg and men’s 77kg classes.
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