INCHEON: China’s most decorated Olympian, gymnast Zou Kai, will grasp his chance to make up for lost time when he returns to the Asian Games after being controversially dropped in 2010.
Zou has a Chinese-record five Olympic wins along with a bundle of world titles, but there was consternation when he missed out on his home Asiad in Guangzhou.
Now the floor exercise and horizontal bar specialist, 26, is expected to add to his trophy cabinet as he heads a Chinese team which is again likely to dominate.
Zou is a leading light in what is a weakened competition with many teams resting their top stars for next month’s world championships in Nanning.
China will be without both Zhang Chenglong and Lin Chaopan, world champions in high bar and parallel bars, as well as rings star Chen Yibing and parallel bars specialist Feng Zhe.
But rival teams will not underestimate China, who have won 123 gymnastics golds out of a possible 175 since the event was introduced to the Asian Games in 1974.
“China has so many good gymnasts that even a China ‘B’ team is very hard to beat,” one team official, who did not want to be named, told AFP.
And on the women’s side, the Chinese boast a stronger lineup which features two world champions — Huang Huidan and Shang Chunsong.
Japan are also focusing on the worlds, with Olympic all-round gold medallist Kohei Uchimura missing Incheon to aim for a fifth straight world title in Nanning.
But while Japan’s lineup is missing true world-class stars, 20-year-old Yuya Kamato will hope to take the chance to build on his 2010 all-round Youth Olympics crown.