Chinese swimmer Qin Haiyang competes in the men's 200m breaststroke final at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province on Sept. 28, 2023. (Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi)
Chinese swimmers and Wushu athletes claimed five gold medals each to lead a 14-gold rush for the hosts at the 19th Asian Games.
HANGZHOU, Sept. 28 -- Chinese swimmers and Wushu athletes claimed five gold medals each, leading a 14-gold rush for the hosts at the 19th Asian Games here on Thursday.
The Chinese swimmers once again dominated the pool, securing five out of the seven gold medals available. In total, the Chinese swimming team has accumulated 24 gold medals, the largest share of the 90 gold medals won by the hosts as of Thursday.
China's swimming sensation, Qin Haiyang, powered his way to the 200m breaststroke gold medal, adding to his 100m crown. Qin, the first swimmer in history to sweep three breaststroke gold medals in a single World Championships last July, aims to repeat the feat at the Asian Games. Qin set a Games record with a time of two minutes and 7.03 seconds for the gold, though it fell short of his world record of 2:05.48 set at the Fukuoka worlds in July.
"I was hoping to swim under 2:07. I wasn't far off, but I guess this means I still relaxed a little," said the 24-year-old, who will compete in the 50m breaststroke on Friday.
Zhang Yufei was another star in the pool, showcasing her versatility by setting a Games record of 24.26 seconds and clinching a gold medal in the women's 50m freestyle, in addition to her two butterfly titles.
Chinese star swimmer Zhang Yufei celebrates winning the title of the women's 50m freestyle. (Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi)
Ye Shiwen, the London Olympic gold medalist, secured the women's 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:23.84. "The result did not meet my expectations, so I don't believe I have reached my peak yet," said Ye, who won two gold medals in London at the age of 16.
China also claimed titles in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay and women's 4x200m freestyle relay.
Earlier on the day, Chinese Wushu athletes achieved five gold medals in sanda events, primarily at the expense of rivals from Iran. In the women's 52kg final, Li Yueyao defeated Iran's Elaheh Mansoryan Samiroumi, who had lost to a Chinese competitor in a gold medal match for the third consecutive time at the Asian Games. In the men's 70kg final, He Feng initially lost the first round but rallied to defeat Mohsen Mohammadseifi from Iran, while Shoja Panahigelehkolaei, also an athlete from Iran, was outclassed by Wang Xuetao in the men's 60kg final.
"I was almost ready to retire after the Asian Games in 2018, but it's significant to hold the Games at home, and I don't want to miss it," said the 28-year-old Li. "Getting prepared for an event like this is challenging for a veteran player like me, but I never give up."
Chinese Wushu athletes also secured golds in the women's 60kg and men's 56kg events.
Chinese gymnast Lan Xingyu in action during the men's rings final. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)
An Chang Ok of DPR Korea stole the show on the first day of gymnastics apparatus finals, earning gold in both women's events - the vault and the uneven bars. An scored 14.049 points in the vault with an unparalleled difficulty score of 5.6 for her second routine. Her teammate, Kim Son Hyang, secured the silver with 13.600, and China's Yu Linmin took the bronze with 13.533.
The 48-year-old legend Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan narrowly missed out on the podium, finishing fourth with 13.383 points. She expressed her determination to continue training and vie for a spot at the Paris Olympics.
The 20-year-old An then maintained her composure on the uneven bars, securing her second gold with a score of 14.266. Despite earlier victories in team and all-around individual events, the host gymnasts did not carry their momentum onto the apparatuses, with only Lan Xingyu winning the men's rings title on Thursday.
China also secured gold medals in fencing and taekwondo, leading the medal table with 90 gold, 51 silver, and 26 bronze medals. South Korea was in second place with 24 golds, and Japan came in third with 18.