World champion swimmer Qin Haiyang and women's basketball World Cup medalist Yang Liwei will lead the host delegation as flag bearers at the 19th Asian Games opening ceremony on Saturday.
Qin, a rising pool star who bagged three breaststroke gold medals at the world championships in Japan in July, has emerged as the biggest favorite to win the treble of 50m, 100m and 200m golds again at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
After becoming the first male swimmer in history to win all three breaststroke events at a single world, Qin continued to make a golden splash at last month's World University Games in Chengdu by winning all five events he signed up with, including two relays.
The six-day swimming competition at the Asiad, which begins on Sunday at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Aquatic Sports Arena, is expected to witness Qin's third dominating campaign in four individual and two relay events, despite tough challenges from Japanese rivals.
As captain of the Chinese women's basketball team, Yang led the squad to finish with a silver medal at the 2022 FIBA Women's World Cup in Australia, tying the women's national program's best result in history. As a reliable playmaker on the backcourt, the experienced point guard also played a pivotal role in Team China's gold-winning campaign at the 2023 FIBA Asia Cup.
The women's basketball tournament in Hangzhou involves 12 teams drawn into three groups. Team China, which first plays against Mongolia, Indonesia and India in Group A, has set its sights on going all the way to the final and defending its title led by Yang.