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China, Qatar Reap Rewards at Day 3
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China made a clean sweep of the men and women's all-around gymnastics gold medals on day 3 while host Qatar celebrated winning three medals at the Asian Games on Monday.

World champion Yang Wei edged out Japanese duo Hisashi Mizutori and Hiroyuki Tomita to lift the men's all-around title, while teenager He Ning and Zhou Zuoru made a 1-2 combo in the women's competition, with North Korean Hong Su Jong coming third.

Thus the Chinese gymnasts, who won eight out of 14 gold medals in the world championships last October, have swept all four titles so far, following their victories in both team events.

Yang Wei, who scored 95.500 points ahead of Mizutori's 93.400 and arch-rival Tomita's 93.250, said he hoped to win more in Doha.

It was a day of jubilation for the host nation after breaking a two-day medal drought to win three. Qatar's markswomen won their country their first bronze medal from the 10m target team thanks to a special Asiad rule. They were awarded the medal despite finishing last.

With only three teams competing, no bronze medals should be awarded but Max Muckl, technical delegate from the International Shooting Federation, announced the legality of awarding the bronze medal to Qatar since "the rule No. 15 of the Asian Games shooting regulations says that the minimum team entries requirements is three."

Chinese-born chess player Zhu Chen, a former world champion who married Qatari Mohamad Al Medaihki, brought her adopted country a second bronze in the women's rapid chess event. Finally, Al Hajri Saed and Al Qatan Abdulla became the host's heroes by winning a silver in the men's doubles bowling.

China, having collected 29 gold medals during the first two days, slowed their medal haul pace on Monday but still managed to win nine, extending their gold tally to 38. Japan remains second with 12 and South Korea third with seven.

Japanese swimmers, led by double Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima, ruled the pool by grabbing four gold medals out of seven. China won two with the last going to Syria's Rafd Zyad Almasri.

Kitajima, under fire after losing to Vladislav Polyakov of Kazakhstan in the 50m breaststroke on Sunday, found new inspiration to retain his 100m breaststroke title first before going on to claim a second with teammates in the 4X200m freestyle relay.

Miracles were created in the weightlifting competitions, Thailand's Olympic champion Pawina Thongsuk claimed the gold in women's 63kg category, recording a world record lift of 142kg in the clean and jerk. This is the third division she had competed in during the last five years.

Four years ago, she was the winner in the 69kg class at the Busan Asiad. Two years ago, she won the Olympic gold medal in 75kg category in Athens. Finally, one year ago, she took the gold in the 63kg class at the Doha world championships. She has also announced plans to compete in a fourth category.

Kazakhstan emerged as the big winners in shooting with two gold medals, splitting the day's four golds with traditional powerhouse China. The central Asian country also took a third from the men's rapid chess by Murtas Kazhgaleyev and stood fourth with five golds in the medal tally.

South Korea won three gold medals on Monday from the mixed doubles of soft tennis, the team dressage of equestrian and men's 73kg judo.

The day's other three judo gold medals went to Mongolia's Hsagaanbaatar (men's 66kg), North Korea's An Kum (women's 52kg) and China's Xu Yan (women's 57kg).

(Xinhua News Agency December 5, 2006)

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