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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 11:36, January 30, 2007
Roundup: China win first gold, Olympic champions beaten in Winter Asiad
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China made strong strides by claiming the opening and last gold medals of the day when Olympic champions blunted and a pair of Asian records were broken at the sixth Asian Winter Games in Changchun on Monday.

Of the first seven gold medals in the Games, both China and Japan reaped three crowns apiece with the hosts edging ahead on the overall tally by 3-2-5 and Japan on 3-2-1, leaving the other to South Korea. Kazakhstan finished with one bronze, the only medal out of the collection by China, Japan and South Korea.

In a battle vying for the first gold of the Games, newly-crowned Asian all-round champion Wang Fei had a morale-boosting performance for the hosts, clocking in four minutes and 13.08 seconds to win the women's 3,000m speedskating title, beating the previous Asian record of 4:15.86.

"I was relaxed as I competed in front of home spectators. It is just my day today," said Wang who lost to Japanese Masako Hozumi in the Asian Single Distance Championships here early this month but won the rematch this time when Hozumi took the silver by 2.34 seconds.

Sui Baoku of China ensured the home spectators a happy night in the Five-Ring stadium by taking the men's 1,500m short-track speedskating gold medal. The 20-year-old edged triple Olympic champion Ahn Hyun-Soo of South Korea to win in two minutes and 20.590 seconds.

"I was waiting for the chance to overtake the leading skaters and it finally came. I am very very happy," said Sui, who lagged behind for much of the time but rushed to the front only in the final laps.

"I won confidence from the victory because Ahn is so strong that I never got to win over him before," he added.

The third gold medal for China came from the biathlon where veteran Liu Xianying led a strong Chinese charge for a clean sweep of the women's 7.5km sprint, beating defending champion Tamami Tanaka of Japan to a disappointing fourth place.

The Chinese trio of Liu, Kong Yingchao and Dong Xue made the most exciting competition of the day at the Beidahu ski resort, the venue for all snow sports of the Games, some 160kms away from Changchun, the capital city of China's northeast Jilin provicne.

"The wind was strong and changing in degree all the time, it is hard to have control especially in the shooting leg," said Klaus Siebert, head coach of the Chinese biathlon team.

"But my athletes just shoot good, ski good, and they stayed cool and mentally strong," the German added.

Powerhouse Japan, who topped the final medal tally three times in the past five Winter Asiad, also had a big day as they clawed back effectively to win the two remaining golds on snow.

Shiho Nakashima led a 1-2 finish in the women's halfpipe snowboard before Hidenori Isa stormed to the other biathlon title in the men's 10km sprint event with a clean sheet in shooting leg.

Earlier, Hiroki Hirako won the first gold for Japan when he broke another Asian record to lift the men's 5,000m speedskating title in 6:39.71, improving the previous mark of 6:41.62 set up by Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Babenko who finished third. Yeo Sang-Yeop of South Korea came second in 6: 43.34.

And Monday was the mayday for South Korean short-track speedskaters Jin Sun-Yu and Ahn Hyun-Soo, who were beaten to second all together. Jin and Ahn won three gold medals each in the Turin Winter Olympics last year.

Against a brave Chinese Sui, the Turin Olympic triple champion Ahn had to settle for the second place in 2:20.679. And Chinese Li Ye, 23, finished third in 2:21.131.

Earlier in the women's event, Jung Eun-Ju crossed the line first in 2:24.089, beating fellow South Korean Jin to the second place in 2:24.124. Jin was the winner in the 1,000m, 1,500m and 3000m relay at the Turin Olympics.

China's gold hopeful Wang Meng, the 500m Olympic winner in Turin, took the bronze medal in 2:24.408 after South Korean Byun Chun-Sa was disqualified for pushing.

"I didn't feel much cooperation between our team members. We were at an disadvantage position although we had as many people as South Korea in the final," said Wang.

In the six-member final, Wang was left alone to compete against a South Korean trio in the last laps after the 17-year-old Zhou Yang stumbled and Chen Xiaolei lagged too far away to help.

Source: Xinhua

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