Rising billiards star Ko Pin-yi won Taiwan’s first gold medal at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) on Tuesday, taking the men’s 9-ball title.
The 21-year-old Ko scored four straight victories to reach the final before defeating Kuwaiti Abdullah al-Yousuf 9-4 for the gold medal.
The title showdown was tightly contested early on, with Ko clinging to a 5-4 lead after nine racks, but the Taiwanese youngster swept through the last four racks to secure an emphatic victory.
President Ma Ying-jeou has congratulated Ko and praised his achievement in a message to Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee deputy secretary-general Shen Yi-ting, who is leading Taiwan’s delegation at the AIMAG in Incheon, South Korea.
Billiards is traditionally one of Taiwan’s strongest events in international competition, and the country’s players have won one gold, one silver and three bronze medals in the discipline at previous Asian Indoor Games.
Aside from Ko’s gold, Taiwan has won silver medals in e-sport event SF Online and in the women’s 50m butterfly and 200m freestyle swimming events to date at the AIMAG.
Taiwan has also bagged bronze medals in e-sport events Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and League of Legends, in snooker in the men’s team event, and in the women’s 100m breaststroke and men’s 50m freestyle events in the pool.
A total of 77 Taiwanese athletes are competing in events such as billiards, bowling, chess, dance, soccer, kabaddi, kurash, Muay Thai and swimming in this year’s AIMAG, which is seen as a prelude to next year’s Asian Games.
This year’s AIMAG has brought together the Asian Indoor Games and Asian Martial Arts Games into a single major competition for the first time.
The Games, which started on Saturday, run until tomorrow.