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Thursday February 22, 2024

China thrill in track and field but footballers flop again at Asiad

By AFP
October 02, 2023

HANGZHOU: China swept four gold medals in track and field at the Asian Games on Sunday to celebrate national day, but their men's football team failed to read the script and were dumped out by South Korea.

The hosts are running away at the top of the overall medals table in Hangzhou with 132 golds and still seven days of competition to go. China is enjoying a long holiday for national day and patriotic fervour filled the 80,000-seater Olympic stadium in the eastern city for the evening's athletics.

Waving mini flags and roaring on the home competitors, they were not to be disappointed. Wang Jianan, nicknamed Eddie, leapt an impressive 8.22m on his first attempt in the long jump. It proved enough to defend his title.

Discus thrower Feng Bin, who like Wang was dethroned as world champion in August, also bounced back in style to claim gold with a throw of 67.93m, a Games record. "I'm really happy. After all, today is national day, a very special day for every Chinese person," the 29-year-old Feng said.

"To win my first Asian Games medal on this day makes me extremely happy and excited." There was more home success through Lin Yuwei in the 100m hurdles and Zheng Ninali in the women´s heptathlon.

China's men's football team is often derided at home and they once again failed to get in the holiday mood. They were outclassed and soundly beaten 2-0 by South Korea in the last eight to disappoint a bumper crowd of nearly 40,000.

The Koreans, who are chasing a third gold medal in a row in the under-23 competition, face Uzbekistan in the semi-finals. Japan beat North Korea 2-1 and will play Hong Kong, surprise 1-0 victors over Iran, in the last four.

The North Koreans rounded on the Uzbek match officials at the final whistle and at least one furious player had to be held back by his teammates. China also suffered a comprehensive loss in the final of the women´s team badminton competition.

The South Korean squad raced onto the court and some players were in tears after a 3-0 win for their first gold in the event for nearly 30 years. South Korea´s coach Kim Hak-kyun called the gold "precious" and said they were already targeting more success at next summer´s Paris Olympics.

"This is thanks to the determination, mindset, mentality and unity of our players," said Kim. China did however recover to win the final of the men´s team competition 3-2 after going behind to India.