Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: In what could be a matter of pride and honour for Odisha, 12 players from the State will be representing India in the 18th Asian Games to kick off in Jakarta from tomorrow.

In total, nine women and three male athletes from Odisha will represent India in Athletics, Hockey, Badminton, Gymnastics and Rowing at the games. Out of them, 5 players will take part in individual events. Especially, all eyes will be on sprinter Dutee Chand who will take part in the 100-metre and 4X100 metre running events.

In Asian Athletics Championships 2017, Chand had won 2 bronze medals and she recently set a new national record during the 58th National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships.

Apart from Chand, 400 metre runner Jauna Murmu and heptathlete Purnima Hembram are also seen as potential medal winners.

"Recently, I performed well by setting a national record. I am very happy that I am taking part in the Asian Games. With all the good wishes, I am confident that I will be back with a medal," Chand said.

Similarly, Rituparna Panda will take part in the event as the first woman Badminton player from Odisha. She will be a part of women's doubles team along with Sikki Reddy.

"I am feeling very proud and happy to represent India as well as Odisha as the first woman player. I am feeling very happy and excited," Panda said.

On the other hand, in hockey, a lot is expected from Odia players in both men's and women's category.

While Birendra Lakra and Amit Rohidas will be part of the men's team, Deep Grace Ekka, Nilima Minjh, Namita Toppo and Sunita Lakra will represent the country in the women's category.

Former national hockey player from Odisha, Lajrus Barla, feels that Odia players will play an instrumental role in getting gold medal for the country.

"Fitness level of players like Birendra and Bobby is very good and I am sure India will win gold in the men's category this time," Barla said.

Similarly, Odia players Rakesh and Sanjukta Dungdung Patra will represent the country in Gymnastics and Rowing, respectively.

Meanwhile, Brij Bhushan Charan Singh, the Chef de Mission of the Indian contingent for the 18th Asian Games, has said that all the medals which the Indian athletes will win will be dedicated to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The 18th Asian Games will be held in the twin cities of Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2.