Asian Games: Hurdlers take dual golds, North Korea set another weightlifting record

Takayama, who took bronze in the event at the previous Asian Games in Jakarta, said he felt lucky to share the title after hitting hurdles in the race

By Reuters

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Kuwait's Yaqoub Al-Youha (centre) during the men's 110m hurdles final. — AFP
Kuwait's Yaqoub Al-Youha (centre) during the men's 110m hurdles final. — AFP

Published: Mon 2 Oct 2023, 10:09 PM

Two hurdlers were crowned champions after a photo finish at the Asian Games on Monday while North Korea doubled down in record-breaking style in the weightlifting.

A South Korean roller-skater was left in anguish, however, after an early celebration cost his team gold in a relay event.

Japan's Shunya Takayama and Kuwaiti runner Yaqoub Alyouha were both awarded gold in the men's 110 metres hurdles, officials unable to separate them after they crossed in 13.41 seconds at the Hangzhou Olympic stadium.

Takayama, who took bronze in the event at the previous Asian Games in Jakarta, said he felt lucky to share the title after hitting hurdles in the race.

"To get two gold medals, with another athlete, makes me twice as happy," he said.

Alyouha admitted to a nervous wait before the result was confirmed.

"This is very rare in our line of work," he said. "Honestly? My blood ran cold."

North Korea's record-shattering performances continued in the weightlifting where Kim Il Gyong set a world mark in the snatch (111kg) on the way to winning the women's 59-kg division.

The 20-year-old became the reclusive east Asian nation's third female weightlifter to get into the world-record books in Hangzhou where the team is competing in their first international competition since before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ri Song Gum and Kang Hyong Yong set records in winning gold in the 49-kg and 55-kg divisions respectively on Saturday.

North Korea has been deemed non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency for years and their entry into an Olympic weightlifting qualifying tournament in Cuba earlier this year caused an uproar among rival nations, who complained their athletes were not subjected to the same testing.

The North Koreans ended up skipping Cuba and will not compete at the Paris Olympics.

"I would assume they have done the right thing if they are able to compete (in Hangzhou) but there are a lot of lingering questions," Australian Weightlifting Federation president Sam Coffa told Reuters.

Five years after winning the 69kg gold in Jakarta, a lighter Rim Un Sim coasted to gold for North Korea in the women's 64kg with a combined lift of 251kg.

While it was no world record, it was 17kg better than China's runner-up, Pei Xinyi.

Roller-skater Jung Cheol-won was left red-faced when he celebrated too early in the 3,000 metres relay race, costing South Korea the gold.

The 27-year-old eased up and raised his arms near the finish, allowing Taiwan's Huang Yu-Lin to pip him on the line.

Taiwan won the gold by 0.01 seconds.

"I made a rather big mistake," said Jung. "I am very sorry."

Indian athletics was rocked by an incendiary social media post by one of its heptathletes who said she had "lost" the bronze medal to an unnamed transgender athlete.

"I want my medal back as it is against the rules of our athletics," Swapna Barman wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, in a post later deleted.

Barman finished fourth in the heptathlon behind compatriot Nandini Agasara, who took exception to Barman's post, telling Indian media she would take up the issue with the country's athletics federation.

"I know what I am. Ask her to show proof," she said in comments published by India Today.

After eliminating China's table tennis world champions in the women's doubles quarter-finals, the dream run of Indian duo Suthirta Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee ended in the semis when they fell in seven games to North Koreans Cha Su Yong and Pak Su Yong.

But South Korea's Jeon Ji-hee and Shin Yu-bin ended up with the gold with a comprehensive win over Cha and Pak in the final.

Japan completed a clean sweep of the triathlon titles, taking the mixed team gold ahead of runners-up China after winning the individual men's and women's events.

In no surprise, Chinese divers battled each other for the two titles on offer and for the men's table tennis singles gold.

The hosts also dominated the opening day of the canoe sprint events, claiming four out of the six gold medals.

But Kazakhstan's Sergey Yemelyanov was thrilled to win the men's canoe double in the 500 metres with team mate Timur Khaidarov, continuing a strong family tradition at the Games.

Yemelyanov's brothers Mikhail and Timofey won a canoeing gold at Incheon in 2014.

"My emotions, of course, are off the charts because I only won silver medals at the last two Asian Games," he said.

"Tomorrow I will continue with Timofey in the 1,000 metres. I hope there will be a victory."

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