‘One of best-ever’ Asian Games comes to a close

Just five gold medals were presented Saturday at the Asian Games in a rather slow-paced denouement for an event the Olympic Council of Asia president referred to as ‘one of the best ever.’

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Published: Sun 28 Nov 2010, 12:28 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:05 AM

Zhou Chunxiu won the women’s marathon in the morning, giving China its 198th gold medal of the games, one shy of its eventual record total, and Myanmar took its first two — in the men’s and women’s doubles finals in sepaktakraw.

OCA chief Shaikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah told a closing news conference that even a military conflict on the Korean peninsula during the games could not damage its image.

North and South Korean ‘athletes stood shoulder-to-shoulder to compete even though there had been some problems in their countries,’ Al Sabah said.

The closing ceremony on Saturday evening began with an impressive display of fireworks from the 600-meter (2,000-foot) Canton Tower and along the Pearl River, the focal point of China’s third-largest city of 10 million.

Like the opening ceremony, the closing extravaganza was held in a 27,000-seat stadium on tiny Haixinsha island in the river. Later, Al Sabah took the games torch from Guangzhou officials and handed it to those from the city of Incheon, South Korea, which will host the Asian Games in 2014.

The Guangzhou organizers paid tribute to Asia’s cultural diversity in a 47-minute opening medley that drew on ethnic song and dance from India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Lebanon and Mongolia. Hong Kong pop stars Alan Tam and Hacken Lee added a contemporary touch by leading a performance of the games theme song, ‘Triumphant Return.’

The show was later turned over to Incheon — South Korean drummers, dancers with red and white fans and taekwondo performers emerged. Donning a black trench coat, actor-singer Rain followed with a fast number accompanied by identically dressed dancers. The closing ceremony ended with the games flame extinguished as hundreds of athletes watched beneath and fireworks again lit the coolish autumn sky.

After 48 gold medals were presented Friday in a hectic penultimate day, Zhou won the first of the last-day medals when she finished the marathon in 2 hours, 25 minutes, about 90 seconds ahead of her Chinese compatriot Zhui Xiaolon. Kim Kum Ok of North Korea won the bronze.

Ji Young-jun of South Korea won gold in the men’s marathon, finishing in 2:11.11, with Japan’s Yukihiro Kitaoka second. That ended China’s chances of capturing 200 gold medals at Guangzhou.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, won its previous gold in sepak takraw in 1998 in the women’s regu division of the acrobatic volleyball-like sport in which competitors use just about everything but their hands to get a rattan ball over the net. Myanmar’s men beat South Korea 2-0 and its women defeated China 2-1.

‘We have a new flag and we are proud to have won the gold medal under it,’ said Myanmar coach Kyaw Zin Moe.

China won the first gold of the games on Nov. 13 when Yuan Xiaochao finished first in wushu martial arts event, and took the last on Saturday. The Chinese women’s volleyball team came back from two sets down to beat South Korea 21-25, 22-25, 25-10, 25-17, 16-14, leaving its final gold medal count for the games at 199.

Al-Sabah was in an upbeat mood in the hours leading up to the closing ceremony, noting that there had been only two doping cases at these games compared with more than a dozen at the 2006 Asian Games at Doha, Qatar.

And the two positives — a judo competitor and a wrestler, both from Uzbekistan — involved a banned stimulant responsible for a spate of recent international doping cases.

The World Anti-Doping Agency recently loosened the classification of the stimulant, Methylhexaneamine, for next year to the ‘specified stimulant’ list, which covers drugs that are more susceptible to inadvertent use and can carry reduced penalties.

Al-Sabah also reiterated his support for the most controversial decision at the games when Taiwanese taekwondo competitor Yang Shu-chun was disqualified during her match against Vietnam’s Thi Hau Vu. Judges ruled she was using illegal sensors on the heels of her shoes which would have unfairly added points to her score.

While there was much outcry in Taipei over the decision, the OCA met with the World Taekwondo Federation and left responsibility for further investigating the case and any future sanctions with the international body.

Al-Sabah said Saturday the competitor had used ‘unfair technology ... it was a very fair suspension.’

The OCA president also announced that they had resolved ‘the misunderstandings and solved all the problems’ of its dealings with the Incheon organizing committee, and had signed a contract with committee officials in the South Korean city.

Seven non-Olympic sports are set to be cut from the 2014 program, reducing the Asian Games total to 35 sports. There were reports that the Incheon organizers did not agree with some of the OCA’s suggestions, but Al Sabah said they had agreed on the sports, which were not announced, and on the schedule of test events ahead of the games.

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