Park, Kitajima launch bids for Games glory

GUANGZHOU — South Korean star Park Tae-Hwan launched his bid for Asian Games glory Sunday, setting up a showdown with Chinese rival Zhang Lin as he looks to smash the China-Japan stranglehold.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 14 Nov 2010, 10:34 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:01 AM

China won four of the six gold medals on offer on the opening night of action in the pool Saturday at Guangzhou’s Aoti Aquatics Centre with Japan taking the other two and both nations again looked powerful in qualifying.

Park, who won seven medals at the 2006 Asian Games — including three gold — qualified for the finals of the men’s 200m freestyle in third place behind Chinese pair Sun Yang, who touched in 1:47.85, and Zhang.

The South Korean took 400m freestyle gold ahead of Zhang, the 800m freestyle world champion, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Sun Yang performed well today,” said Zhang, adding: “I’ll try my best to beat other competitors and will need to be close to a personal best time.”

Japan’s four-time Olympic gold medallist Kosuke Kitajima reached the final of the men’s 50m breaststroke, qualifying in fifth place behind China’s Li Xiayan who clocked 27.85sec.

Iran’s Mohammad Alirezaei Dizicheh and Japan’s Ryo Tateishi were second and third.

Kitajima won the 100m and 200m breaststroke double at the 2004 Athens Olympics and repeated the feat four years later in Beijing. He also won both events at the 2002 and 2006 Asian Games.

Japan’s Takuro Fujii qualified fastest in the men’s 100 metres butterfly heats in a time of 52.85sec, 0.18secquicker than China’s Zhou Jiawei, with South Korea’s Chang Gyucheol third.

“The Japanese team performed well yesterday and I’m encouraged by that. I performed well today and I’ll try my best in the final to win another gold for the Japanese team,” said Fujii.

In the women’s 400m individual medley, 14-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen qualified quickest in 4:44.09 ahead of Japan’s Izumi Kato and China’s Li Xuanxu.

Japan’s Shiho Sakai was fastest in the women’s 200m backstroke, ahead of Chinese pair Zhou Yanxin and Zhao Jing, who is the reigning world champion in the 50m backstroke.

The finals, including the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, will be held later Sunday.

China and Japan finished with 16 gold medals apiece in swimming events at the Doha Asian Games in 2006 with South Korea a distant third in the medals table.

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