Two golds by Japan and one by Korea was all that stood between China and a sweep of the ten titles at stake on the opening day of the athletic competitions of 5th East Asian Games at the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground in Hong Kong on Thursday (10 Dec).
All today’s results were rather modest by top international standards.
Kenji Fujimitsu, a member of Japan’s gold medal winning relay teams (4x100m and 4x400m) at last month’s Asian Championships at Guangzhou, took the men’s 200m title. Fujimitsu, whose personal best of 20.46sec has stood since 2006, was a member of the Japanese 4x100m squad which finished fourth place at the Berlin World Championships earlier this year. Today he took victory with a 20.91 clocking.
Inspired by his victory, Japanese team-mate Ryosuke Awazu took top spot in the men’s 800m, in a modest time of 1:50.66.
In the women’s Pole Vault, China’s Asian junior record holder Li Ling, the recent Asian Indoor Games champion, suffered a rare defeat at the hands of Lim Eun-ji of Korea. Li Ling, who holds a 4.45m PB (outdoor and indoors), failed at 4.20m today, the height at which the Korean clinched the gold.
Overall, China dominated proceedings winning seven out of ten finals which were decided on the opening day.
In the women’s 800m, Liu Qing defended her East Asian Games title from 2005 but in the women's Shot Put, the reigning champion Li Meiju was defeated by compatriot Li Ling; yes, another its popular name!
Both these Chinese putters have identical 19.38m personal bests and also good international records - Li Meiju is the 2008 World Indoor bronze medallist and Li Ling was fourth in the 2007 World championships - and were expected to make this a memorable competition. But Li Meiju could only muster a best today of 16.74m and that left Li Ling to take gold with a heave of 17.95m.
The podium replicated the same set of medallists - Li Ling, Li Meiju and Lin Chia-Ying of Chinese Taipei - from the Asian Games held in Doha, three years ago.
Qin Qiang won today's men’s Javelin Throw with 80.41m, his second best career performance following the 81.48 PB which he set when winning the Asian GP meeting in Kunshan, China, on 27 May this year.
Earlier in the morning, the 20km Race Walks were contested. In the men’s race, Yu Wei, a 22-year-old walker from China had an interesting duel with Japan’s Koichiro Morioka.
Wei was the silver medallist at the last Asian Race Walking Championships held in Nomi city, earlier this year, while Morioka, a double bronze medallist from the 2005 and 2007 World University Games, entered with the intention of improving his fifth-place finish from the last edition of the East Asian Games in Macao. This aim Morioka achieved but he lost the battle for the title with Wei edging him by a second to win in 1:26:46. Kim Hyunsub, the Korean national record-holder, was third, ten seconds behind.
In a similarly close contest in the women’s 20km, Li Yanfeng, the silver medallist in this year’s Chinese National Games, pushed Japan’s Asian silver medalist Kumi Otoshi into second spot by seven seconds.
In the Decathlon, Qi Haifeng of China led the first day’s competition with 3899 points.
In the spotlight as ever, hurdler Liu Xiang arrived at Hong Kong earlier this morning amidst loud cheers from a large number of fans who had gathered at the airport to greet him. Wearing a mask, he waved to acknowledge the welcome and then left quickly for his hotel.
“We will concentrate since it is a competition, but it does not matter how fast he runs. It will be alright if he gets first place,” said Liu’s coach Sun Haiping to the waiting media.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF
1. Kenji Fujimitsu JPN 20.91, 2. Hosua Yeo KOR 21.27, 3. Sota Kawatsura JPN 21.43;
1. Ryosuke Awazu JPN 1:50.66, 2. Park Jung-jin KOR 1:50.83, 3. Gao Congcong CHN 1:50.92;
1. Li Jinzhe CHN 7.85/-0.3, 2. Naohiro Shinada JPN 7.73/0.2, 3. Rikiya Saruyama JPN 7.71/-0.1;
1. Qin Qiang CHN 80.41, 2. Zhao Qing-gang CHN 79.62, 3. Chen Yu-Wen TPE 72.41;
20Km Race Walk:
1. Yu Wei CHN 1:26:46, 2. Koichiro Morioka JPN 1:26:47, 3. Kim Hyunsub KOR 1:26:59;
1. Jiang Lan CHN 23.92, 2. Hang Ling CHN 24.24, 3. Yuka Nagakura JPN 24.88;
1. Liu Qing CHN 2:06.41, 2. Akari Kishikawa JPN 2:07.21, 3. Manami Mashita JPN 2:07.42;
1. Lim Eun-ji KOR 4.20, 2. Li Ling CHN 4.05, 3. Tomomi Abiko JPN 3.90;
1. Li Ling CHN 17.95, 2. Li Meiju CHN 16.74, 3. Lin Chia-Ying TPE 15.47;
20Km Race Walk:
1. Li Yanfei CHN 1:35:33, 2. Kumi Otoshi JPN 1:35:40, 3. Yang Mingxia CHN 1:45:06.