Sunday, November 14, 2010

China Begins Asian Games Gold Rush in Guangzhou

The Chinese men dominated as the Asian Games began Saturday in Guangzhou, outscoring Japan by 11 points to take their 10th consecutive team title. Left to right: Zhang Chenglong, Chen Yibing, Yan Mingyong, Feng Zhe, Teng Haibin and Lu Bo.
The Chinese men dominated as the Asian Games began Saturday in Guangzhou, winning the team title and qualifying first to six of the seven individual finals.
With the same team that won the world title last month in Rotterdam, the Chinese crushed the competition to take their 10th consecutive Asian Games team title. China defeated runner-up Japan by 11 points, with Korea a further 5 points back. The top three teams repeated their results from the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
2004 Olympic pommel horse champion Teng Haibin led the Chinese charge, scoring 91.750. 2004 Olympian Hisashi Mizutori, the silver medalist at the 2005 Worlds and 2006 Asian Games, sat in second again with 90.250. China's Lu Boqualified third with 89.950.
The Chinese were the top qualifiers in every event except vault. World champions Chen Yibing (still rings), Feng Zhe (parallel bars) and Zhang Chenglong (high bar) were untouchable on their specialties. Zhang also led the qualification on floor exercise, and Teng was tops on pommel horse.
Korean teenager Yang Hak Seon outvaulted the field with the day's highest score. Yang, 17, was fourth on vault in Rotterdam.
The majority of the individual apparatus finalists hail from China, Japan, Korea, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but several other nations still have medal hopes in Guanzghou.
Iranian Nejad Hadi Khanari qualified to the still rings final and Hong Kong's Shek Wai Hung to the vault final. Chinese Taipei had finalists in Huang Che Kuei (pommel horse) and Chen Chih Yu (still rings). Vietnam also qualified two gymnasts to the finals — Dang Nam (vault) and Pham Phuoc Hung (parallel bars).
Commonwealth Games star Ashish Kumar qualified fourth on floor exercise, the first Asian Games final for an Indian gymnast. But after a late withdrawal from Rotterdam, Indian gymnastics continues to be in turmoil. Vladimir Chertkov, the Russian-born coach on contract with the federation, reportedly quit his post in Guangzhou after yet another argument with Indian team officials.
During Friday's opening ceremonies, Indian officials prevented Chertkov from marching with the Indian athletes and other coaches. Indian officials claim he was asked to leave because he was not wearing proper attire, while he said it was a racial decision.
"It was an insult straight on my face," Chertkov told the Press Trust of India news agency. "It was humiliation. It was discrimination. The way I was asked to go, I can say it was racism."
Indian officials countered by saying other non-Indian coaches were permitted to march with the delegation in the opening ceremonies, and that Chertkov was the only one who caused any difficulty.
It was the second blowup in a month between the coach and the Indian Gymnastics Federation. During October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Chertkov called the officials inept after they reportedly complained that Kumar's silver and bronze medals in Delhi — the first-ever Commonwealth medals for an Indian gymnast — were insufficient. The federation promptly canceled the team's participation at the worlds in Rotterdam, a costly decision: The last-minute withdrawal meant India had to pay for all reserved hotel rooms in full, in addition to an FIG fine.
Chertkov said he has had enough and planned to leave Guangzhou immediately, although his one-year contract goes through the end of November.
"It was the last straw," Chertkov said. "I cannot take it any more. If I'm not good enough for participating in the opening ceremony, what have I to do?"
Competition continues Sunday with the women's team and individual qualification.

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