Olympic swimming champion Kosuke Kitajima flopped to finish outside the medals yesterday as the Chinese Asian Games gold rush gathered steam.
The Japanese icon, who clinched double breaststroke gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was widely expected to win over 100m, but faded badly to finish fourth behind teammate Ryo Tateishi.
It was a stunning upset for Kitajima, who was attempting to win the 100m-200m double for the third straight Asiad.
Tateishi clocked 1 minute, 0.38 seconds, with Kazakhstan’s Vladislav Polyakov taking silver and Wang Shuai of China the bronze.
It followed Kitajima tying for fourth a day earlier in the 50m event, with the 28-year-old now looking to be past his best.
“I knew after my turn that I wouldn’t win the race. Although I swam faster than this morning, I did not swim fast enough to get a medal,” he said. “I will do all that I can to do better in the 200m breaststroke. I want to encourage the Japanese team again. Ryo Tateishi and his gold medal are very important to the team.”
China has dominated the pool so far and they won another five of the seven golds available yesterday, with Japan’s Ryosuke Irie’s victory in the men’s 200m backstroke the only other non-Chinese triumph.
Elsewhere, South Korea’s shooters secured their best ever gold medal haul even as China powered on toward a top finish in the competition.
The South Koreans ended the third day with eight golds, already their highest tally in one edition of the Games after winning seven at home in Seoul in 1986 and again in Hiroshima in 1994.
China nudged ahead with the other 10 golds decided so far, looking set to match — or surpass — the 27 titles they won in the 44-event competition at Doha four years ago.
On the badminton courts, the Chinese women shuttlers overwhelmed Thailand to win the team title, with world No. 1 Wang Xin leading the way by beating Intanon Ratchanok, but she was pushed to three sets.
“I was just happy I was able to hang on in the end,” Wang said.
China also won gold in the men’s individual all-round gymnastics when Teng Haibin convincingly beat teammate Lu Bo and Japan’s Hisashi Mizutori.
“This may be my last time competing at the Asian Games, so I am very excited to win,” said Teng, who scored 91.110. “A few mistakes occurred here and there, but today my performance was very good.”
A day after Li Ping set two new world records at the Dongguan weightlifting arena, North Korea’s Kim Kum-sok broke the Chinese stranglehold by claiming the men’s under-69kg title.
He finished ahead of Mortaza Rezaeian on lower body weight after they both finished tied on an aggregate of 324kg.
China’s world champion Li Xueying won the women’s under-58kg class.
Iran and Oman, meanwhile, became the first teams into the men’s soccer quarter-finals with 3-1 and 3-0 wins over Malaysia and Hong Kong respectively.
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