Asian powerhouse China will arrive at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games intent on making a major impact as their 202-strong team of athletes continues to settle in Ashgabat.
The Chinese were the dominant force at the last Games held in the South Korean city of Incheon in 2013, scooping up 29 gold medals as well as 13 silver and 10 bronze to claim a total of 52 medals.
China were the leading nation in the pool as the country claimed 14 gold medals in the Short Course Swimming, with a further six golds in DanceSports, three golds in the Billiards and another three in Chess.
They also finished on top of the medal table at the three previous editions of the Asian Indoor Games – held in Bangkok in 2005, Macau in 2007 and Hanoi, Vietnam in 2009 – and were fourth at the Asian Martial Arts Games, held in Bangkok back in 2009.
The Chinese will participate in 12 of the 21 sports at this year’s Games and will be represented in 147 disciplines, including Short Course Swimming, Indoor Athletics and Bowling.
“This event is one of the most important multisport Games that we send a delegation to,” said Li Yinchuan, Vice-Chairman of the China General Administration of Sport (CGAS).
“Every member has to enhance their knowledge of the mission and keep a consistent mentality in order to accomplish everything safely and successfully.”
The selection of China’s delegation was completed on 12 September and will total 285 members.
In an official statement, the CGAS stated the target of the team is: “To show the sporting quality and spirit of China, to promote the Olympic spirit and China’s sporting mentality.
“We will work together with solidarity in order to gain both competitive achievement and spiritual civilization. In the meantime, we will aim to increase the friendship between neighbouring countries and regions and improve Asian sport.”
So while the Chinese athletes will undoubtedly be among the ones to beat at Ashgabat 2017, the entire continent is ticking down the hours until the biggest sporting event ever to be held in Central Asia gets underway on Sunday evening with the Opening Ceremony.