Incheon: Three countries at the 17th Asian Games are tuning up and hoping for their first podium finish at the continent's largest sports event, scheduled to open here Friday.
Bhutan, which is making its seventh attempt at clinching its maiden Asiad medal, is sending 16 athletes to compete in boxing, archery, track and field and four other sports, reports Xinhua. The South Asian country first entered the Asiad in 1990 and finished fifth in the bantamweight (56kg) category in boxing in 2010 in Guangzhou, its best Asiad performance.
The Maldives, also in its seventh Asiad this year, will send a delegation of 143 athletes, almost double the size of its Guangzhou contingent, to compete in swimming, track and field, badminton, basketball and others.
East Timor, which is in its fourth Asian Games, will send 31 athletes in track and field, boxing, cycling, football and karate. The small island in the Indonesian archipelago first entered the Asiad in Busan, a South Korean port city, in 2002.
At this year's competition, more than 1,300 medals are up for grabs, with thousands of athletes from 45 countries and regions participating in 36 sports. So far, Japan has collected the most medals among Asiad countries and regions with 2,650, followed by China with 2,553 and South Korea with 1,822. In terms of gold medals, China leads Japan, 1,191 to 910, while South Korea ranks third at 617. The Asian Games was first held in India in 1951.