HANGZHOU, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) — The Hangzhou Asian Games marked the curtain call of many veterans of the athletic stage. Regardless of how they performed at the Asiad, their perseverance deserves to be remembered. Here are eight of those shining stars.
1. Oksana Chusovitina (Artistic Gymnastics)
48-year-old Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan is a true legend on the gymnastics stage who exemplified enduring spirit at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
She narrowly missed a medal in the vault final by finishing on 13.383 points, only 0.15 points behind China’s Yu Linmin, who claimed a bronze medal.
Despite her sense of regret at missing the podium, she has already shifted her focus to further improvements, declaring, “Before the Olympic qualification competitions, I need to work on certain aspects.”
2. Abdullah Alrashidi (Shooting)
60-year-old Abdullah Alrashidi of Kuwait elevated his tally of Asian Games medals to an impressive 10 in Hangzhou, while matching the world record in the men’s skeet final.
“In Kuwait, we face significant limitations in training conditions, but I possess innate talent, coupled with experience and relentless training, which has brought me to this level,” he commented.
3. Reza Alipour Shenazandifard (Climbing)
Iran’s Reza Alipour Shenazandifard, 29, upset several favorites to defend his men’s speed climbing title.
Shenazandifard defeated China’s Zhong Qixin five years ago in Jakarta, claiming the first men’s speed climbing gold in the history of the Asian Games.
However, Shenazandifard had barely made a podium finish on the international stage since 2018, but displayed his ability again by showing stability with zero errors throughout the final in Hangzhou.
“For five years I had been training hard everyday. I lost, lost, lost, but still trained from morning to night. I sometimes cried alone at night, but I never give up,” said Shenazandifard.
4. Alexey Lutsenko (Road cycling)
Kazakhstan’s Alexey Lutsenko successfully defended his title in the men’s individual time trial of the road cycling competition in Hangzhou.
The 31-year-old, who had previously claimed the event’s golds at Incheon 2014 and Jakarta 2018, finished in 48 minutes and 5.75 seconds.
“The achievement [at the Asian Games] was the main goal for this year, and I put in a lot of effort for it,” he said.
5. Gong Lijiao (Shot put)
34-year-old Olympic champion Gong Lijiao pocketed her third Asiad shot put title with a throw of 19.58 meters.
Despite having become a Grand Slam winner after being crowned at the Tokyo Olympics with a personal best of 20.58 meters, Gong has never stopped trying to reach a higher goal.
“I will keep pursuing a better performance; I hope to break the 21-meter mark at the Paris Olympics,” she said.
6. Ma Long (Table tennis)
After helping China achieve its eighth consecutive men’s team title at the Hangzhou Asiad, Ma Long, 34, arguably the greatest table tennis player of all time, bade farewell to his Asiad journey.
Starting his Asiad campaign in Doha in 2006, Ma has six gold medals under his belt, with his first coming from the team event in 2006. He then claimed the singles and team golds at Guangzhou 2010, and came top in the doubles and team events at Incheon 2014.
“My Asian Games might be done, but I still have other competitions coming up in future,” Ma said.
7. Li Ling (Athletics)
Li Ling broke her own pole vault Games record to win her third straight Asiad gold medal.
34-year-old Li needed only two attempts to clear 4.30m and 4.53m. She went on to clear 4.63m on her first try, improving the Games record she set five years ago in Jakarta by three centimeters.
“I feel that I might not be as nervous as before. When I first participated in the Asian Games, I would get very nervous, but now my mindset is much calmer,” she said. “This is because my goal is very clear and it’s to break my personal best. When I set my goal higher, I don’t have an overwhelming obsession with the gold medal because I have higher objectives to pursue.”
8. Li Qian (Boxing)
Having lost to India’s Lovlina Borgohain in the World Championships semifinals in March, Li Qian underlined her skill in the women’s 75kg final and gradually got the bout under control en route to clinch her maiden Asiad gold medal.
“I have been training hard in the past nine years and have participated in all kinds of competitions,” said Li, silver medalist at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. “It has been a long tough journey for me to finally win gold.”
The 33-year-old has set her sights high on her third Olympic Games in Paris, aiming to convert her silver in Tokyo into a gold.
“I’m more stable and mature mentally. I also have a higher standard for myself,” added Li.