Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan will be sending athletes to represent the three Caspian countries to the 2018 Asian Games, which will be held in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 through September 2.
The opening ceremony does not kick off until Saturday, but some competitions have already started as of August 10. This year’s Asian Games have attract a record number of competitors, as nearly 11,000 athletes representing 45 nations are expected to take part in 40 sports and 67 disciplines. By comparison, the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea this year brought together 2,500 athletes – just a fraction of the number expected in Indonesia.
Additional disciplines that have been introduced for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games have been added to the slate for this year’s Asian Games, including 3x3 basketball and BMX freestyle. eSports and canoe polo are included as a demonstration sport.
Kazakhstan’s national team left for Indonesia this past Sunday, with 440 athletes. Over 400 of them will compete in 25 Olympic sports categories.
A member of the archery team, Sultan Duzelbayev, age 24, says it is a great honor for him to compete under his national flag at the games.
“Like every athlete of the national team, I am only aiming for medals. We will try to justify the hopes of the fans at the major continental sports event,” he said prior leaving the country, according to reports by TengriNews.
Kazakhstan has participated in the Asian Games since the twelfth edition, which was held in Hiroshima in 1994. Kazakhstan’s best performance came in 2006, however, when the country ranked fourth, taking home 23 gold medals, 20 silver and 42 bronze.
The second largest national team behind that of Kazakhstan this year is Iran. Nearly 360 Iranian athletes will compete in what is considered the most prestigious event organized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
Elaleh Ahmadi, a 36 year-old shooter from Iran, was chosen to become the first woman to carry her national flag at the opening ceremony. She has replaced Kimia Alizadeh, the Olympic bronze medal winner in taekwondo, who had to withdraw after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a training session.
“First of all, I have to say I am sad due to Kimia and I hope and pray she recovers quickly,” Ahmadi told the Tehran Times. “I am also glad to be given this chance to carry Iran’s flag in the Opening Ceremony. I will do my best in the Games to win a gold medal,” she added.
Turkmenistan’s national team is comprised of 62 athletes. Russia and Azerbaijan, while part of the Caspian region, do not participate in the Asian Games but rather the European Games.
The Asian Games, also known as Asiad, is a continental multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The games are recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and are described as the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.