By Shamseer Jaleel
Sri Lanka will send its largest-ever contingent for the 18th Asian Games with 185 athletes participating in 28 sports for the multi-sport extravaganza which will take place in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia from 18 August to 2 September.
The 28 sports are aquatics (swimming), archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, canoeing, golf, gymnastics, hockey, judo, kabaddi, karate, rowing, rugby (sevens), sailing, roller sport, squash, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball (indoor and beach), weightlifting, wrestling and wushu.
There are 138 men and 47 women among the total of 185 athletes who will be taking part. This will include a 12-member women’s team in Kabaddi for the first time. It is expected that more than 60 officials – managers, coaches, doctors, physiotherapists, trainers, masseurs, etc. will also accompany the team taking the Sri Lankan contingent number to more than 250.
Four years ago, at the Incheon Asian Games, Sri Lanka sent a 126-strong contingent – 80 athletes and 46 officials. Sri Lanka returned home with two medals both won in cricket. The men’s team won the Gold medal defeating Afghanistan in the final while the women won the Bronze. Cricket is not a medal sport this time.
The Asian Games is the second-biggest multi-sport event next to the Olympic Games. A total of 45 countries will take part in 40 sports in Jakarta and Palembang, making it the second-largest sports program in Asian Games history.
Sri Lanka will mainly pin its medal hopes on athletics, kabaddi, judo, karate, wushu and rugby (men’s sevens) while there will also be a strong chance in boxing, weightlifting, golf and swimming.