A red-faced South Korean rollerskater blundered away a gold medal, a North Korean weightlifter broke a world record again and Winfred Yavi cruised to a second Asian Games title on the athletics track in Hangzhou yesterday. Jung Cheol-won had nowhere to hide after easing up and celebrating gold before the finish line in the 3,000m men’s speedskating relay final, only to be pipped by a hundredth of a second. The fast-finishing Huang Yu-lin from Taiwan just managed to lunge his leg over the line first for what he called a “miracle” win.
“While you were celebrating, I was still fighting,” said Huang. A crestfallen Jung bowed his head: “I made a rather big mistake. I am very sorry. I apologise to my teammates and to our fans who supported us. It’s all my fault.”
Kim Il Gyong became the third woman in a row from North Korea to break a world record at these Games, on the country’s return to international competition after four years. Kim, who is 20 and has never lifted in senior international competition, set a new snatch record of 111kg on her way to gold in the 59kg class.
Ri Song Gum broke two world records on Saturday in the women’s 49kg, the first weightlifting event, and Kang Hyong Yong set a hat-trick of world records in the women’s 55kg class. Rim Un Sim made it four golds from four events for North Korea later Monday when she easily won the 64kg class, although she failed with her world record attempt at 118kg in the snatch. “Like athletes from other NOCs, we train in great venues. We are devoted and very committed to our preparation,” Kim said when asked about North Korea’s record-shattering performances after years of exile.
In athletics, Bahrain’s untouchable world champion Yavi surged to the 3,000m steeplechase gold medal as Iranian veteran Ehsan Hadadi’s 17-year reign in the discus ended. Yavi defended her title in a Games record 9min 18.28sec to add to the 1,500m gold she won on Sunday.
The 38-year-old Hadadi had been unbeaten at the Asian Games since his first gold in Doha in 2006 but he fell to Iranian teammate Hossein Rasouli, who took gold with 62.04m to Hadadi’s 61.82.
Hua Tian ensured a full set of Asian Games medals when he completed the clear show jumping round to win the eventing individual gold. Hua had won silver at the Asian Games in 2014 and bronze in 2018, and his efforts helped China to team gold.
India’s Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee could not repeat their table tennis heroics of Saturday, when they shocked China’s world champions Chen Meng and Wang Yidi 3-1. The Indian pair took home a bronze medal after being edged 4-3 by North Korea’s Pak Su Gyong and Cha Su Yong in the semi-final.
The North Koreans lost 4-1 to South Korea’s Jeon Ji-hee and Shin Yu-bin in the final before exchanging a frosty handshake and awkwardly accepting an invitation to join their arch-rivals on the top step of the podium after the medal ceremony.
China’s Wang Chuqin won his fourth gold medal as the table tennis wrapped up, preventing compatriot Fan Zhedong from taking his third Asian Games men’s singles title in a row, by prevailing 4-3 in a nail-biting deciding game. Wang completed a perfect set of golds having also won the men’s team, men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
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