Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gold glory for Koreans at Asian Games

By Alexander Fedorets (AFP)

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — South Korean athletes won five gold medals on Wednesday at the Asian Winter Games to rival hosts Kazakhstan, who also increased their gold collection by winning three events.

Kazakhstan have grabbed 13 gold medals and 37 overall, while South Korea have 10 gold and 23 overall. China are in third place, winning eight gold medals so far.

Nordic skier Lee Chae-Won of South Korea opened the day's account for South Korea finishing first in the women's 10 km freestyle event.

The 29-year-old clocked a time of 36 minutes 34.6 seconds to finish 41 sec ahead of Japan's Masako Ishida and Yuki Kobayashi, who were second and third respectively crossing the finish line with a winning margin of just 0.1sec.

Another South Korean woman, Park Seunghi, added gold to her team's collection, winning the women's short track 1000 metre race finishing just 0.3sec ahead of her second-placed compatriot Cho Ha Ri. Lui Quihong of China was third.

Noh Seonyeong and Lee Seung Hoon also supplied gold medals to South Korea's haul, winning the women's and men's mass start competitions in speed skating.

China's Song Weilong, meanwhile, won the men's 1000m short track event. Silver medalist Daisuke Uemura finished 30sec back, while third-placed Sung Si Bak of South Korea was more than a minute off the pace.

China also won the women's short track 3000m relay, while South Korea finished first in the men's 5000m relay event.

In the men's 15km freestyle distance Japan's Keishin Yoshida and Nobu Naruse dominated the event setting up a one-two finish for their country. Nikolay Chebotko of Kazakhstan was third almost two minutes behind the winner.

Japan's ski jumpers were in a class of their own in winning the team K125 contest with a total of 837.6 points, 43.6 points ahead of the second-placed team Kazakhstan.

South Korea were third 24 points behind the hosts.

The head coach of Japan team Kenji Suda said he was happy both with the results and his team's performance at the Asian Games.

"I'm happy we managed to repeat our success of the 2003 Games and win the team event here," he said. "The weather today wasn't perfect for jumping but our team performed as a single whole and deservedly won. We were just the strongest team today."

Mongolia dominated their opening match of the Asian Games' bandy tournament against Kyrgyzstan at the famous Medeu ice rink in the suburbs of Almaty.

The Kyrgyz squad failed to supply any serious opposition to the Mongols, who netted 13 unanswered goals in the first half.

After the break Mongolia eased the pressure allowing their rivals to score a couple of consolation goals. However, Mongolia's lead was never in doubt as they gained a well-deserved 17-2 win.

Local veteran biathlete Alexandr Chervyakov missed five targets in the men's 12.5km pursuit course but made up for it with his skiing to win his second gold medal at the Games after his success in Tuesday's sprint.

Junji Nagai of Japan and China's Ren Long finished second and third respectively.

Kazakhstan athletes underlined their supremacy in ski orienteering winning both the women's and men's middle distances with Olga Novikova, who also won sprint on Monday, and Mikhail Sorokin clinching the gold medals in their sections.

Two other local favourites Yevgenia Kuzmina and Vitaly Lilichenko grabbed silver medals in women's and men's races respectively.

China's Liu Xiaoting was third in women's event, while Bijan Kangarloo of Iran was a surprise bronze medal winner in men's race.

"I didn't expect to win any medals today," radiant Iranian said. "This was my third consecutive competitive day and the race was really hard. Now I'm tired but happy to win the medal. It's a really pleasant surpise!"

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

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