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Japanese swimmer Hagino, the most valuable player:

China underlines its sporting supremacy

INCHEON, Oct. 4: The third Asian Games to be hosted by South Korea concluded with a spectacular closing ceremony at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium today. The Saturday nightís ceremony which brought the curtain down of the 17th edition of the 45-nation games was a treat to watch.

China cemented its status as the continentís sports powerhouse, topping the medal table, totalling a rich harvest of 343 medals, including 151 gold medals, 108 silver and 83 bronze. However, Chinaís performance was nowhere near their efforts at the last Guangzhou 2010 Games at which they pocketed a record 199 gold medals as the hosts. It was reduced by 48 gold medals as South Korea and Japan won more titles this time around.

Host South Korea came in second with 79 gold medals, 71 silver and 84 bronze in a total medal bag of 234. It was easily South Koreaís best in the 63-year-old Asian Games history.

They managed to push archrivals Japan to the third place in the final medals table with 47 gold medals, 76 silver and 77 bronze, totalling 200 medals. Kazakhstan finished a distant fourth with 28 gold medals, 23 silver and 33 bronze medals, ahead of fifth-placed Iran which bagged 21 gold medals, in addition to 18 each silver and bronze medals.

North Korea did well at Incheon, having earned a more than what they had expected - 11 gold medals, with its weightlifters setting four world records. It was nice to see the presence of North Korean contingent, proving that the sport is a great leveler.

Sri Lanka finished 27th with the gold and bronze medals they received in the menís and womenís T20 cricket.

Samsung Most Valuable Player

Japanese swimming sensation Kosuke Hagino was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 17th Incheon Asian Games. Among the shortlist of eight athletes, Hagino took the prize after having delivered four gold medals in the pool, in addition to one silver and two bronze.

ďI did not expect this at allĒ, Hagino said at a press conference adding that he mustthanl family and teammates.

In Incheon, Hagino grabbed gold medals in the menís 200m individual medley with an Asian record time, the 200m freestyle, the 4x200m freestyle relay and the 400m individual medley.

The 20-year-old versatile swimmer has already been tipped as a strong contender to win the medley gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. ďI want to do well at the Rio Olympics two years from now and at the Tokyo Olympics six years from now,Ē Hagino said.

The young swimmer, who defeated Sun Yang of China and South Korean Park

Tae-hwan in the 200m freestyle, said it was a great experience to compete against two Asian giants. ďIt was a pleasure and great experience to race against great athletes,Ē Hagino said.

The other nominees were South Korean fencer Nam Hyun-hee, South Korean judo athlete Kim Jae-bum, Chinese gymnast Yao Jinnan, Thailand sepaktakraw player Suriyan Peachan, Chinese shooter Cao Yifei, North Korean weightlifter Kim Un-guk and Malaysian squash player David Nicol Ann.

The award, decided by 1,600 journalists covering the games, including the yours truly, is given by the Samsung Group.

Two final golds for the hosts

South Koreaís soft tennis added two more golds with victories in the menís and womenís team events Saturday, completing a sweep of all seven gold medals up for grabs in the sport for the first time in 12 years at the Incheon Asian Games.

In the menís team final at Yeorumul Tennis Courts, South Korea pulled off a comfortable 2-0 victory over Japan for its first gold since the 2002 Asiad.

The team competition features a doubles match, followed by a singles match and, if necessary, a second doubles match in the best-of-three format.

Kim Dong-hoon and Kim Beom-jun, the menís doubles gold medalists here, won the first doubles match, 5-3, over Hidenori Shinohara and Koji Kobayashi.

In the next singles, Kim Hyeong-jun, who won gold in the menís singles, defeated Koichi Nagae 4-2 to clinch the gold medal for South Korea without having to play another doubles match.

Later in the womenís team final, the South Korean team defeated Japan 2-1 to bring home the seventh gold medal in soft tennis.

Joo Og and Kim Ji-yeon won the opening doubles match 5-2 over Kana Morihara and Nao Kobayashi. Then Japan drew even as Ayaka Oba defeated Kim Bo-mi 4-1 in the singles. In the decisive doubles match, Yoon Soo-jung and Kim Ae-kyung edged out Nao Morita and Hikaru Yamashita 5-2 for the gold medal.

South Korea monopolised all soft tennis events at the Asian Games - menís and womenís singles, menís and womenís doubles, mixed doubles, and menís and womenís team events. With todayís team golds, Kim Beom-jun, whoíd won the menís doubles gold and the mixed doubles title, became a triple gold medalist, along with Kim Ae-kyung, who also won the womenís doubles gold and shared the mixed doubles title with Kim Beom-jun.

Basketball gold for SK

South Korea staged a thrilling comeback to defeat Iran 79-77 for gold in menís basketball final yesterday. South Korea erased a five-point deficit with two minutes to play to win its first gold in menís hoops since 2002.

Down 75-70 with two minutes to play, South Korea went ahead 76-75 with Yang Dong-geunís three-pointer and then a three-point play by Kim Jong-kyu, who converted his free throw after getting fouled on a lay-in with 36.3 seconds to go.

South Korea got a steal on the next possession and Moon Tae-jong, who was fouled after an inbound, drained both of his free throws for a 78-75 lead with 16.9 seconds left. Mohammad Samad Nikkhah Bahrami made a turn-around jumper to cut the deficit to 78-77 with 14 seconds remaining.

On the next possession, Moon was fouled again and made one of his two free throws. With a chance to win at the buzzer, Bahrami launched a three-pointer that rolled out of the rim. Center Hamed Haddadi grabbed the offensive board, but his jumper was also off-target as the clock ticked down to the finish at Samsan World Gymnasium.

South Korean head coach Yoo Jae-hak called the victory ďa miracle,Ē and said he saw about 10 percent of the chance of winning the game when his team was still trailing.

 

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