Friday, November 12, 2010

China lays down the gauntlet at Asian Games

China's Xiaochao Yuan holds his medal up after winning the gold medal in the men's Changquan section of the Wushu event at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. (AP)
The host nation laid down the gauntlet on the opening day of the Asian Games Saturday, claiming six gold medals as cricket made its international debut in China.
The sporting extravaganza, the most ambitious Asiad so far with some 10,000 athletes from 45 countries and territories vying for gold in 42 sports, kicked into gear after a spectacular ceremony that opened the massive showpiece.
China's Yuan Xiaochao took the first honours, ensuring his name goes down in the history books as the first gold medal winner in Guangzhou by successfully defending the men's Changquan title in wushu.
Japan's Daisuke Ichikizaki took silver and Ehsan Peyghambari of Iran won bronze.
It was the first of 476 golds to be decided over two weeks of competition, with China heavily favoured to top the medal table, ahead of South Korea and Japan battling for second.
"I'm so happy to have won the first gold medal of the Games and I appreciate my coach's help. I will make it up to him by working even harder," said Yuan, who has aspirations of becoming a martial arts film star.
China added to their haul on the Aoti shooting ranges, bagging the women's 10m Air Rifle team title with Yi Siling clinching the individual gold.
The home nation also took the men's 10m Air Rifle team gold while Pu Qifeng won the 50m Pistol individual.
South Korea was the only country to threaten China's shooting stranglehold, winning the men's 50m Pistol team title.
Twenty-eight gold are at stake on the opening day, with six in the pool where the battle between China and Japan became a strategy session during the heats ahead of the evening finals.
China's Zhu Qianwei set the tone in the first event, qualifying with the best time in the women's 200 metre freestyle in one minute 59.83 seconds, followed by Japanese rival Haruka Ueda.
In the women's 100m butterfly, Japan's Yuka Kato surprisingly clocked faster than China's Olympic silver medalist Jiao Liuyang.
But it wasn't only China enjoying success, with Hong Kong's Lee Wai Sze causing an upset at the opening event of the track cycling, snatching victory in the 500m women's time trial from defending champion and favourite Guo Shuang.
The 29-year-old Lee, the top ranked track cyclist in the time trial, individual sprint, keirin and team sprint disciplines, set a new Asian record of 33.945 seconds at the Guangzhou velodrome.
"I have been longing for this medal," said Lee. "I have been turning in good performances on a daily basis in training."
Japan also clinched a gold when favourite Mariko Adachi easily won the women's triathlon ahead of teammate Akane Tsuchihashi with South Korea's Jang Yun-Jung a distant third.
International cricket, meanwhile, was played on Chinese soil for the first time, with the hosts crushing Malaysia by 55 runs in a women's game.
China scored 116 for 6 in their 20 overs and Malaysia never threatened to reach their target in front of a disappointingly sparse crowd at the 4,800-capacity Guanggong Cricket Stadium.
Officials claimed earlier this week that all tickets for the women's cricket tournament had sold out.
"I don't know how far we will go in the competition but we will try our best to win," said Chinese skipper Wang Meng.
Cricket's induction at the Games came after the International Cricket Council identified China as one of the major new markets along with the United States for the development of the sport.
The action comes after a spectacular water-themed gala ceremony on Friday evening, which culminated years of planning and was held amid ultra-tight security with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attending.

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