Japan plans to claw back some pride in the Asian Games pool Monday with Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima in action as Lin Dan spearheads an expected Chinese goldrush on the badminton courts.
Going into Day 3, China tops the medal table with 37 gold, ahead of South Korea (14) and Japan (8).
Another 30 gold are on offer, in swimming, badminton, billiard sports, gymnastics, judo, shooting, soft tennis, weightlifting and wushu, with South Korea taking the early initiative by winning the first of the day.
They clinched the men's 50m Rifle Prone team title with a combined total of 1,785 ahead of China, handing them their sixth gold from the 11 shooting events contested so far.
|Team China, Li Zhe Si, Wang Shi Jia, Zhu Qianwei and Tang Yi, celebrate on the podium during the award ceremony for the women's 4x100m freestyle relay in the swimming event of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, on November 14|
Kitajima kickstarted his bid to win double breaststroke gold for a third Games in the 100m heats.
The Japanese icon, who clinched double breaststroke gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, timed 1:02.35 to qualify third fastest a day after finishing tied for fourth in the 50m event, one he doesn't usually race.
"I swam very relaxed. I don't care much about records, but I will try to break the record, even if just by a little bit," he said in forecasting potential fireworks in the evening final.
So dominant is the 28-year-old that only teammate Ryo Tateishi, the third fastest in the world, should pose a threat. He qualified in second place, behind Kazakhstan's Vladislav Polyakov.
China has dominated the pool on the opening two days of competition, but Japan should have more of a look in with Ryosuke Irie favourite to defend his men's 200m backstroke crown.
China's Olympic silver medallist Jiao Liuywang, who has already won the women's 100m butterfly, attempts to make it a golden double in the 200m and looked ominous in qualifying first in the heats.
Superstar shuttler Lin Dan leads China in the final of the men's badminton team event and based on their performance in the semi-finals, they should beat South Korea.
South Korean doubles specialist Lee Yongdea admitted it will be hard to win in front on the Chinese fans.
"China has home advantage, so we may be influenced by the umpire's judgement and the audiences, but we will try our best," said Lee.
In the women's team event, the hosts face Thailand.
China is also favoured to win more gold in the men's and women's individual all-round gymnastics at the Asian Games Town Gymnasium.
Among the men, Teng Haibin has few challengers in any of the disciplines -- pommel horse, vault and parallel bars.
Huang Qiushuang is a strong candidate for honours in the women's event.
A day after Li Ping set two new world records at the Dongguan weightlifting arena, Indonesia's Triyatno is out to break the Chinese stranglehold in the men's 69kg category.
Triyatno, the Olympic bronze medallist, can climb up the medal dias in the absence of China's Olympic and world champion Liao Hui who has been rested.
The women's 56kg looks to be a battle between 2009 world champion Li Xueying of China and North Korean Olympic champion Jong Chun-Mi.
The men's football knockouts start with China against South Korea the highlight.
The Chinese side is facing tremendous pressure in front of a home crowd, while the nation is hoping the team help can turn the page on a nasty corruption scandal by finishing among the elite here.
"We will not fear South Korea. We are confident that we can beat them," said defender Zhang Linpeng.
In other matches, Iran face Malaysia, Oman play Hong Kong and Qatar take on Uzbekistan.