Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Asian Games: Liu wins 110m hurdles as another drugs case tars Games

GUANGZHOU, China: Superstar hurdler Liu Xiang won redemption on Wednesday in front of home fans for his Beijing Olympic disaster by claiming Asian Games gold on a day tarnished by a second positive doping test.

On day 12 of the showpiece multi-sports event, dominant table-toppers China made the Guangzhou Games its most successful ever in terms of total medals.

Li Caixia's gold and Li Ling's silver in the women's pole vault were the 343rd and 344th for the hosts, surpassing the previous record of 342 that China won in Beijing in 1990.

China is also on course to beat its best ever haul of gold, which stands at 183 in the Beijing Asiad. They now have 173 with three days left.

Liu contributed to his country's tally by winning the 110m hurdles in front of 80,000 screaming fans at Aoti Main Stadium and an estimated television audience of up to 600 million.

The former Olympic champion and world record holder crossed the line in a season-best time of 13.09 seconds ahead of teammate Shi Dongpeng (13.38) and South Korea's Park Tae-Kyong (13.48).

It was Liu's third successive Asiad gold after claiming the title in 2002 and 2006.

His win came 27 months on from his calamitous outing in Beijing, when he limped out of his heat with an Achilles tendon injury to shatter the hopes of a nation.

"I didn't expect to run 13.09. I thought of running about 13.20," he said.

"We are very proud to add a gold and a silver medal to the Chinese team."

His gold was one of three China won in track and field, including Li's pole vault triumph.

Su Xiongfeng denied double defending champion Hussain al-Saba of Saudi Arabia a third title with a best of 8.05m in the men's long jump while Iran's Ehsan Hadadi defended his discus title with a best of 67.99m.

Meanwhile, Uzbek wrestler Jakhongir Muminov became the second athlete to fail a drugs test.

The 23-year-old did not win a medal.

"The athlete has been disqualified from these Games and his performance has been nullified," said Dr. Mani Jegathesan, chairman of the Olympic Council of Asia's medical committee.

The Asiad, which began on November 12, has seen one previous drugs scandal, also involving an Uzbek athlete who was also named Muminov, although they are not related.

Judoka Shokir Muminov won a silver medal but had it taken away after testing positive for methylhexaneamine, a stimulant which was the same drug involved in Wednesday's case.

South Korea are second in the medals table and its coaches and competitors were told to maintain cordial relations with rival athletes from North Korea after an artillery attack on a South Korean island Tuesday.

"I told coaches that our athletes should just act normally around or with North Korean athletes," said Lee Kee-Heung, head of the South Korean athletic delegation, according to Yonhap news agency.

"We're all here to play sports. We don't need to react to the situation back home. This (Asiad) is a platform for sports."

North and South Korean athletes went head-to-head on the wrestling mats, with the four-minute duel sealed by a handshake and a lukewarm embrace.

North Korean Yang Chun-Song came out on top in a bout with the South's Kim Dai-Sung.

Defending champions China, meanwhile, achieved a hat-trick of women's field hockey gold medals by ousting South Korea 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out.

Elsewhere, Malaysia's Puvaneswaran Ramasamy won the 55kg kumite (sparring) gold to become the first karate competitor to climb the podium at five straight Asian Games.

- AFP/ac/de

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