INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA: China produced a customary flourish of four gold medals along with two Asian records and three Games records as the week-long track and field competitions approached their conclusion at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games here late on Thursday.
The Chinese swelled their athletics medals tally to a dominant 39 at the Main Stadium with just the men’s marathon race left to be held on Friday morning.
After enduring a couple of subdued evenings due to the dominance of runners from Gulf countries, the Chinese athletes signed off on the best possible note to stamp their class as the continent’s superpower in track and field, besides other sports.
China’s Zhao Qinggang began the record chase after he hurled the javelin to 89.15 metres, well past the Asian record of 87.60 set by Japan’s Kazuhiro Mizoguchi in May 1989. The 29-year-old also bettered the Asian Games mark of 83.38 by China’s Zhang Lianbiao, which had been set at the 1994 Hiroshima Games.
China’s 4x100-metre men’s relay team then replicated Zhao’s feat as they re-wrote the Asian and Games records with a time of 37.99sec. The old Asian record of 38.03s stood in the name of Japan, while the old Games mark of 38.78s belonged to China.
The 4x100-metre women’s relay team also set a new Games record of 42.83sec, less than a second faster than their existing mark of 43.36s set at the 1998 Bangkok Games.
After India’s men’s hockey team had edged Pakistan in a tense shoot-out across the city, the Indian women signed off in style with a new Games record of 3min 30.80sec in the 4x400-metre relay to see off the more fancied Japan and China teams. The old Games record set by India in Guangzhou four years ago stood at 3:29.02.
Earlier, the UAE’s hopes of another two medals in the women’s 5,000 metres remained unfulfilled after Bahrain’s Maryam Yousuf Jamal completed a double by adding to her record-breaking gold in the 1,500 metres two days earlier.
In a fast race, Japanese duo Riko Matsuzaki and Misaki Onishi set the tone while the two UAE runners — Aliah Saeed Mohammad and Betlhem Desalegn — did well to keep chase. Eventually, Bahrain’s Mimi Belete took over the pack from China’s Ding Changgin.
But, with two laps to go, Jamal made her move and the race turned into an all-Bahrain affair, with the more accomplished Jamal eventually finding a final kick to go past her colleague Belete, while China’s Changgin followed to take the bronze.
Mohammad ended in sixth place with a personal best of 15:30.46, while Desalegn completed a Games to forget as she came tenth in a slow time of 15:49.60, well below her personal best of 15:12.84.
In the men’s 10,000 metres, Bahrain’s Elhassan Elabbassi won in 28:11.20, leaving Suguru Osako of Japan in second and Saudi Arabia’s Tariq Ahmad Al Amri third.