Aanchal Tekriwal, Godda, Jharkhand
The 19th Asian Games was held in Hangzhou by the People’s Republic of China from the 23rd of September to the 8th of October 2023. The much-anticipated multi-sport event officially known as Asiad, occurs every four years and was originally scheduled for 2022, however, due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the event was postponed by a year. The Asian Games hosted the top athletes in the continent, bestowing them with an opportunity for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The Games featured 40 sports and 61 disciplines as the athletes competed for 481 gold medals. With diligence and unprecedented success, South Korea secured third position with a total of 190 medals, including 42 gold, 59 silver and 89 bronze.
Picture Credits: Olympics.com
Asian Games Inaugural Ceremony
The opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games was held on 23rd September 2023 at the Hangzhou Sports Park Stadium in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province. The event enumerated more than 12,000 athletes from all 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia. The groundbreaking and innovative self-declared “green” and “smart” approach with no fireworks for the celebration of the opening ceremony and with the use of impressive digital technology, the television viewers were accompanied by AI-generated fireworks on the broadcast. The ceremony was prominently divided into three chapters; “Timeless Grace”, “Tidal Bore of the Qiantangjiang River”, and “Together Towards the Future”, and was opened by Xi Jinping, the President of China.
Picture Credits: The Korea Times
The technical innovation encompasses a million torch relays, even a digital torchbearer who wandered the iconic Qiantang River and lit the flame along with the Olympic swimming champion Wang Shun where he ignited the wave-shaped cauldron highlighting how Hangzhou is a hub for China’s tech industry. “This opening ceremony was a perfect combination of digital innovation and human gracefulness,” said the IOC President Thomas Bach. The South Korean delegation marched into the stadium led by two flag bearers, fencer Gu Bon-gil and swimmer Kim Seo-yeong.
Picture Credits: The Korea Times
South Korea’s Laudable Wins at Hangzhou 2022
The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) had dignified a goal of around 45 to 50 gold medals, aiming to finish in third place behind the two Asian luminary stars China and Japan. The nation has put up a good battle with the enthralling wins of 42 golds. Submerging in the initial first five days of the game, South Korea grabbed almost 24 gold medals and had kept striking for the remaining event. Earlier, the gold medals were from fencing and taekwondo, leading to a remarkably astonishing five gold medals in its traditional martial arts. The country won 6 gold medals in fencing with an inclusive pair of double gold medalists: Choi In-jeong in the women’s individual and team epee and Oh Sang-uk in the men’s individual and team sabre.
South Korea’s Choi In-jeong (left) with Song Se-rain (Picture Credits: The Korea Times)
Korea collected a total of 22 medals in swimming, out of which were six gold medals. Kim Woo-min, the man to watch, was single-handedly responsible for the gold in the men’s 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay. Hwang Sun-woo out showed a spectacular win for the gold medal in the 200m freestyle. Being an archery powerhouse, South Korea shined with four out of five gold medals in the mixed team, men’s and women’s team, and women’s individual.
Kim Woo-min (Picture Credits: Yonhap)
Momentous double crown in Badminton and wins at the country’s two most loved sports
South Korea’s women’s badminton team contributed a memorable win of 3-0 with China, making this victory historic as conquering their first Asian Games gold medal in 29 years after 1994. The unceasing duo of Lee So-hee and Baek Ha-na procured the world’s no. 1-ranked women’s pair, while An Se-young and Kim Ga-eun triumphed in their singles matches. We all are familiar with the craze and popularity of baseball and football in South Korea, and for the right reason of course as the country won its fourth straight gold in baseball with a 2–0 shutout victory over Chinese Taipei and a 2-1 win over Japan making a historic hat-trick at football in Asian Games.
Picture Credits: REUTERS
The stellar win for the newcomer E-sports with a golden ticket
The unprecedented inclusion of Gaming for the Hangzhou Asian Games as an official medal sport in the form of esports was a victory for all game lovers. South Korea procured a pivotal role in the gaming industry all around the world in taking the status of gaming into the global professional industry of esports we witness today. In the biggest rivalry with Taiwan, Korea outscored 2-O and swept the gold medal for League of Legends esports. The players were not only celebrating their win, rather they had a golden ticket which exempted them from serving in military services by the South Korean government. While the athletes are still required to complete a three- or four-week period of training, this recognition enhances a pivotal step ahead of the gaming industry. According to the South Korean journalist Kevin Kim on X, these players are now “eligible to complete their mandatory service as sports personnel, allowing them to continue their careers uninterrupted if they choose to do so.”
Picture Credits: AESF (Instagram: asian.esports)
KSOC President Lee Kee-heung, during a wrap-up press conference for the Korean delegations, said “I would seek to devise long-term plans for elite sports in Korea to adopt more advanced training systems and learn from examples in other nations.” Kim Woo-min in swimming and Im Si-hyun in archery were selected as the best male and female athletes of the tournament. With hard work and dignity and being a testament to their country, the South Korean players proved themselves once again, being one of the biggest teams in the Asian Games. We wish our heartfelt congratulations to athletes who participated in the Asian Games 2022 and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours, including the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics.
Image Credits: Yonhap
Did you watch the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games? What were your key highlights or most memorable moments from this event?