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Asian Games: Japan wins 3 more swimming golds, but silver in baseball.

DOHA, Dec. 7 Kyodo

Olympic breaststroke champion Kosuke Kitajima completed a 100-200 double for the second straight Asian Games on Thursday as Japan produced another glittering performance in the pool to finish tied with China in the swimming gold medal tally, but there was disappointment for Japan in baseball as Taiwan rallied to snatch the gold.

Kitajima cruised to the 200-meter title in 2 minutes, 12.05 seconds with Daisuke Kimura 1.12 behind to make it a 1-2 finish for Japan at the Hamad Aquatic Center, before adding another with his 4x100-meter medley relay teammates, while Junya Koga also won gold in the 50-meter backstroke.

The three golds were part of an eight-medal haul for Japan in the six races on the last day of swimming competition, giving the country a total of 47 swimming medals, three more than China, with both nations taking 16 golds.

Kitajima led the 200 all the way, also holding off a challenge by Kazakhstan's Vladislav Polyakov who had earlier pipped him to gold in the 50, before returning to the pool with Junichi Miyashita, Takashi Yamamoto and Daisuke Hosokawa to win Japan's fourth straight Asian Games title in the medley relay.

Backstroker Miyashita gave Japan a 0.72 advantage that Kitajima stretched to more than three seconds, and Yamamoto, the 100-meter butterfly gold medalist, and anchor Hosokawa comfortably maintained it to finish the race in 3:36.52. China ended 3.75 behind for silver and South Korea took bronze in 3:41.33.

Earlier in the evening's first final, Koga beat Ouyang Kunpeng of China by 0.07 to win in 25.40, with compatriot Masafumi Yamaguchi in fourth in 25.91.

China ended the evening with just one gold as Qi Hui claimed the women's 200-meter individual medley crown in 2:11.92. Japanese swimmers Asami Kitagawa and Maiko Fujino took silver and bronze with 2:14.51 and 2:15.21.

Tao Li gave Singapore its first swimming gold of the Games when she won the women's 50-meter butterfly in 26.73, while China's Xu Yanwei took silver and Yuka Kato of Japan the bronze.

South Korean teen sensation Park Tae Hwan outclassed the rest of the men's 1,500-meter freestyle field in 14:55.03, becoming the first Asian swimmer to do the distance in under 15 minutes. Zhang Lin of China finished a distant second in 15:03.13 for silver and Japan's Takeshi Matsuda picked up bronze in 15:17.18.

Japan's other golden performance of the day came in rowing when Yu Kataoka, Yuya Higashiyama, Rokuro Okumura and Yoshinori Sato won the men's four, leading from the start and crossing the line in 3 minutes, 4.48 seconds in the 1,000-meter race. China had claimed four successive men's four titles in as many Asian Games but this time could only finish fourth behind India and Indonesia.

Daisaku Takeda took silver in the men's lightweight single sculls, 7.64 seconds behind China's Wu Chongkui who clocked 3:37.12, with Ruthtanaphol Theppibal of Thailand taking bronze, while Ai Fukuchi also took silver in the women's single sculls behind Jin Ziwei of China who won in 4:01.68.

China finished the rowing competition with five golds out of the 10 at stake, while Japan and Uzbekistan each got two and South Korea one.

But there was no gold in baseball for Japan, as Taiwan pulled off a late rally to snatch an 8-7 victory in the final.

Lin Chih-sheng hit a two-run walkoff single off reliever Kentaro Takasaki in the bottom of the ninth after Chen Chin-feng had hit a one-out double that put runners on second and third to dash Japan's hopes of its first gold since the 1994 Hiroshima Games in a game between the two undefeated teams.

South Korea, which won gold at the last two Asian Games, earlier clinched the bronze, while Taiwan added gold to the bronze it won in 1998 and the silver in 2002 following a third-place finish in 1994, when baseball made its Asian Games debut.

Earlier in the day, Ryoko Sakakura and Koichiro Morioka gave Japan its first medals of the athletics competition with a silver and bronze in the women's and men's 20-kilometer walk.

Sakakura recorded a time of 1:33:19 to win Japan's first silver in the discipline since the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, finishing one minute behind winner Liu Hong of China, while Morioka clocked 1:23:17 in a race won by China's Han Yucheng, with South Korea's Kim Hyun Sub second and Japan's Yuki Yamazaki fourth.

In women's soccer, Japan beat China 1-0 thanks to a 27th-minute goal from Azusa Iwashimizu to finish top of Group A with three wins from three games and advance to a semifinal clash with South Korea. China will play North Korea in the other semifinal.

But Japan's scheduled gold medal showdown with South Korea in the men's team tennis final was postponed because of rain. The women's team final and the soft tennis competition were also washed out, and all tennis events will now take place on Friday.

Japan's men came from behind to beat Thailand 2-1 in the tennis team semifinals and will be aiming to successfully defend their title after winning gold at the 2002 Games in Busan, South Korea.

In the preliminary round of the men's field hockey, Japan beat Taiwan 4-0, while China beat Bangladesh 4-1, South Korea crushed Oman 10-0, and Malaysia edged Hong Kong 2-1.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Dec 11, 2006
Previous Article:LEAD: Asian Games: Kitajima completes double, Japan adds relay gold.
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