Qatar send record women's contingent to Asian Games

Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim clears 2.43 metres to win the men's high jump at the Memorial Van Damme Diamond League meeting in Brussels, on September 5, 2014 (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand) (AFP)

Incheon (South Korea) (AFP) - Qatar has included a record 55 women in its Asian Games team and they are not just there as window dressing, their delegation leader told AFP on Wednesday.

The 55 are among a Qatari delegation of 260 athletes at the Incheon games which start on Friday.

Middle East nations face growing attention on their sports equality following Saudi Arabia's decision not to send any women in their Asian Games team.

"Qatar is now focusing on giving a chance to women athletes to compete to represent their country in big sports events like this," said delegation leader Khalil al Jaber.

"These 55 are not just here to take part but to be among the top places," the official added.

Qatar had two women in their London Olympics team in 2012 -- their first female Olympians -- including shooter Bahia al-Hamad, who is the top female hope for Asian Games success.

Qatar's best medal hopes remain men however with high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, London Olympics bronze medal winner, skeet shooter Nasser al Attiah, who also got a bronze in London, and their men's handball team.