Mu breaks world record as Thai challenge crumble
Vietnam and Taiwan won their first gold medals of the Asian Games yesterday, appropriately enough in sports indigenous to the region.
The Vietnamese women's team let their feet do the talking - quite literally as sepak takraw is similar to volleyball except a synthetic ball is usually kicked over a net.
Vietnam took the match in a deciding tie-break 15-11, to win 2 regus to 1 against Thailand. When the game ended, other members of the Vietnamese sepak takraw delegation rushed on the court to congratulate the three winning players - Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, Nguyen Thinh Thu Ba and Nguyen Bach Van.
Chiang Wan-chi won Taiwan's first gold medal by clinching the soft tennis women's singles title. The 23-year-old beat Jiang Ting of China in straight sets.
Soft tennis was created in the late 1800s in Japan by a western missionary, who introduced a lighter racket and a slower, flatter rubber ball.
In a more traditional sport, a more contemporary result - a weightlifting world record.
China's Mu Shuangshuang lifted 139 kilograms to set a world record in the over-75 kilogram class. Mu, a two-time world championship silver medallist, broke the previous record of 138 kg set by world champion Jang Mi-ran of South Korea in May this year.
China won another 12 gold medals halfway through yesterday's events to boost their leading total to 71, more than 50 better than a distant second-place Japan.
China, looking to excel in the last major multisport event before they host the Beijing Olympics in 2008, will likely break their gold record of 150 set in Busan, South Korea four years ago.
The Kazakhstan men's cycling team won the road time trial, with Iran and Japan taking silver and bronze, respectively. The former Russian republic won the team time trial when it was last held in the Asian Games 12 years ago.
Andrey Mizurov, 33, a bronze medal winner in 1994, cycled the anchor leg for Kazakhstan.
"Our specialty is team time trial," said Mizurov. "Since 1994 we haven't changed the way we race, our style. We have a Russian specialty - cycling."
Japan's win in the men's double lightweight sculls helped dent early double gold medal successes by China and Uzbekistan in rowing.
Hideki Omoto and Takahiro Suda of Japan sped down the seaside West Bay Lagoon course in three minutes, 19.29 seconds over the 1,000 metres, just ahead of the 3:19.92 posted by silver medal winners Thailand.
"We wanted to go from the start with full power and try to keep the speed," said Suda. "I saw the Thai team coming closer at 750 metres and we called on each other to go faster."
Designated hitter Lee Byung-kyu had a solo homer and knocked in four runs to lead defending champions South Korea to a 12-2 win over China and a bronze medal in baseball.
Both teams entered the game with 2-2 records in the six-team tournament. Japan and Taiwan, each with 4-0 records, play today for the gold medal.
Thai athletes dispirited
nThai athletes were a tad dispirited after several losses yesterday but they are still chasing dreams of winning more gold medals in Doha.
Thailand's hopes of winning two gold from weightlifting fizzled out with only world champion Pawina Thongsuk coming back with a gold, in the women's 63kg.
The target of four gold medals from sepak takraw was also missed when the Kingdom suffered a shock 1-2 loss to Vietnam in the women's team event.
And the men's tennis team's hopes of winning a gold hit the net when they lost 1-2 to Japan in the semi-finals.
Thai athletes have little chance of repeating their Busan Games success, where they captured 14 gold medals.
On a day when Chinese weightlifter Mu Shuangshuang set a new world snatch record in the women's over-75kg category, powerful Annipa Moontar, gold medallist at this year's World University Weightlifting Championships in Turkey, added a bronze to the Thai tally after lifting an aggregate 265kg in the Olympic total event.
And at West Bay Lagoon, rowers grabbed Thailand two more medals. Rathtanaphol Theppibal and Anupong Thainjam clinched the silver in the 1,000m men's lightweight double sculls with a time of 3.19.92 minutes.
Experienced Phuttharaksa Nikree and Bssayamas Phaengkathok had to be content with the bronze after clocking 3.47 minutes in the 1,000m women's lightweight double sculls event. The duo finished a disappointing fourth in the women's doubles sculls, where China and South Korea claimed the top two spots.
"We are so proud even though the medal we won is the silver. This is our first Asian Games. That's why we are not so disappointed with the medal. The winners, Japan, have experience. They have competed in the Olympic Games," Anupong explained.
Phuttharaksa, who won two silver medals at the previous Asiad in Busan, said she was pleased with her form despite only winning the bronze.
"I had no problem in the race. I had 100 per cent concentration. I did my best here and I'm happy with the medal I won," she said.
Late Tuesday night, Atthasit Mahitthi and Phaithoon Phonbun claimed a bronze for Thailand when they outclassed Malaysian Lai Chee Wei and Moh Ken Hoo 3-1 in the men's snooker doubles event at the Al-Sadd Sports Club.
In a tense and slow-paced match, the Thai pair overcame a spirited challenge from the Malaysian pair who resorted to excessive safe play and prolonged the encounter for well over two hours. Atthasit and Phaithoon eventually won the fourth frame on the pink after going neck-and-neck with the Malaysians for most of the match.
The Nation, Agencies