HANGZHOU, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- The badminton competition at the Hangzhou Asian Games will begin on September 28th, with host nation China eager to remain dominant.
At the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, China's badminton team claimed six medals including three golds - the men's team, women's doubles and mixed doubles. Hosts Indonesia won the men's singles and men's doubles, Japan triumphed in the women's team, while Tai Tzu-ying clinched the women's singles title for Chinese Taipei.
Five years on, Japan and Indonesia are still competitive, and South Korea, who fared poorly in Jakarta, have been on a roll lately. Malaysia, India and Thailand can also not be discounted.
The Hangzhou Asiad badminton competition has seven gold medals on offer, namely men's and women's singles, doubles, team, and mixed doubles events.
As defending champions, China's men's team have a balanced lineup. However, they lack Asian Games experience, with only three out of ten having participated at the Jakarta Asiad. In addition, at least five teams stand a chance of winning the title, making it the most difficult event to predict.
After losing in the final in Jakarta, China's women's team are eager to revenge, but their Japanese and South Korean counterparts will stand in their way.
In the men's singles, Shi Yuqi and Li Shifeng will lead China's assaults. Shi has taken over the leading role for China since Chen Long's retirement, while Li is a rising star fresh from winning the All England Open in March.
The men's singles event also features newly-crowned world champion Vitidsarn Kunlavut of Thailand, Indonesia's Christie Jonatan and Ginting Anthony Sinisuka, Japan's Naraoka Kodai and Haseena Sunil Kumar Prannoy of India. With so many top players, form and fitness will be critical.
In the women's singles, South Korea's An Se-young is heavily favored to win the title as the 21-year-old has captured nine titles this season.
Along with An, the other members of badminton's "Big Four" - China's Chen Yufei, Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, and Chinese Taipei's Tai - will also be strong challengers for the gold medal.
Compared to the singles, China have a bigger advantage in doubles. Defending champions Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan have been dominating for several years, and recently won the World Championships and the China Open, making the women's doubles China's most favored event.
In the men's doubles, Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang hope to maintain their hot form which saw them win the China Open two weeks ago. The young pair's main rivals will be the Indonesian duo of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto, and India's pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.
The biggest names in the mixed doubles are China's Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, but they have been in dismal form recently, losing twice in a row to South Korean pair Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung.