Japan’s Kosuke Hagino starred in the Asian Games swimming pool with his second and third gold medals on Monday as Chinese superstar Sun Yang was sidelined with an injured thumb.
Although China took firm control of the medals table on day three, Hagino helped keep China’s men winless after two nights of swimming as he again stole the spotlight.
Hagino smashed the Asian record with a time of one minute, 55.34 seconds to win the 200 metres individual medley, more than three seconds ahead of teammate Hiromasa Fujimori.
He also swam the second leg as Japan easily won the 4x200m freestyle relay ahead of China, missing Sun, who hurt his thumb in Sunday’s 200m freestyle loss to Hagino.
“We’re leading China now, and if we all take care of our personal targets we could end up in a good place,” said Hagino, with Japan 7-5 ahead in pool wins.
Hagino, 20, who beat his role model Michael Phelps at last month’s Pan Pacific championships, has won four medals after his bronze in Sunday’s 100m backstroke.
Attention will focus on Sun’s hurt thumb as the Olympic champion prepares for today’s showdown with Hagino and South Korean poster boy Park Tae-hwan in the 400m freestyle.
Sun’s coach Zhang Yadong told China’s Xinhua news agency: “He will not quit. All strong men grow up in a disadvantaged environment.”
Despite Sun’s problems, Day 3 at Incheon belonged to China as they swept 14 golds in badminton, wushu, synchronised swimming, cycling, fencing, shooting, gymnastics and weightlifting. China, who won a record 199 gold medals in 2010, sit 12 clear of South Korea with 26. There are 370 medals still to be decided before Asia’s Olympics close on October 4.
China beat South Korea to take the women's team badminton in a fierce battle that ended with Korea's top player breaking down in tears at her defeat.
The Chinese favourites won 3-0 overall in a scoreline that belied the Koreans’ brave performances.
Distraught Sung Ji-hyun could not contain her grief after losing to top seed Li Xuerui in a 2-1 duel, having never taken a game off the world No 1 in seven previous meetings.
In the men’s team semi-final, Malaysia’s world No 1, Lee Chong Wei, slumped to a 2-1 defeat to China’s Chen Long in a repeat of last month’s world championships final. China won again.
China's women's shooters set a new world record in the 10 metres team air rifle but only after the disqualification of Zhang Binbin was overturned. Organisers did not reveal details of Zhang's ban or reinstatement, which resulted in China taking the gold medal with a record score of 1,253.8 points.
A relieved Zhang went on to take bronze in the individual event, where Iranian teenager Najmeh Khedmati won gold ahead of her friend and teammate Narjes Emamgholinejad.
“I was very sad when I was told I was disqualified, but my teammates and coaches backed me and said they would appeal,” Zhang said. “I just needed to control my emotions going into the final.”
It meant disappointment for Iran, who had already been declared winners before the appeal.
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