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Asiad: S. Korea Rules, No Belly Flops for China
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South Korea won nine gold medals, more than any other teams on the ninth day of the Asian Games on Sunday, to close in on the second place on the medal tally with 37 gold medals, only one less than Japan.

Japan claimed only four, three from the track and field, to remain second with 38 gold medals, but still trailing pack leaders China, who collected seven on the day to raise their gold tally to 110.

South Korea showed their dominance in taekwondo and men's Greco-Roman wrestling, winning six from a possible eight. They further picked up one medal apiece from bowling, cycling and fencing.

Japan was the biggest winner in track and field, taking three out of 10 on offer. China and host Qatar had two golds apiece, while Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Iran claimed one each.

China finished 1-2 in the women's 100m hurdles, with Liu Jing beating defending champion Feng Yun for the gold.

"I am very, very excited to get the gold medal. I have been waiting for this for eight years," said 29-year-old Liu, who won silver at the Bangkok Asiad in 1998.

China's Huang Xiaoxiao, who finished fifth in the world championships last year, blew away the rest of the field to claim the women's 400m hurdles title in 55.41.

Two former Kenyan athletes shone for their adopted country and host Qatar, winning two gold medals on Sunday.

Mubarak Hassan Shami ran the men's marathon in 2 hours 12 minutes 44 seconds, dashing South Korea's dream of winning a fifth successive marathon gold in as many Asiads. Daham Najm Bashair won a second gold for Qatar in the 1,500m.

"Everybody in Kenya is running, running faster, everyone wants gold," said Shami. "If I was in Kenya, maybe I would not be able to run for the country."

The all-conquering Chinese divers looked sharp in the first day of competition, clean-sweeping both gold medals from synchronized diving. World Cup winners Wang Feng/He Chong won the men's 3-metersynchronized diving while in the women's 10m synchronized platform competition, Jia Tong/Chen Ruolin met no challenge at all since only three pairs competed in the event.

Olympic champion Chen Zhong shattered South Korea's dream of sweeping the taekwondo gold medals, winning the women's over 72kg gold. China also won in the men's individual sabre through the efforts of Wang Jingzhi with Jiao Huanfeng winning in the men's Greco-Roman wrestling.

On the glum side, Chinese soccer suffered another blow on Sunday. Following their men's quarter-final loss to Iran on Saturday, the Chinese women, the current Asian Cup champions, were eliminated 3-1 by North Korea, who scored two goals in extra time after both sides were deadlocked at 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes.

It was a sweet revenge for the North Korea who lost 1-0 to China in a controversial Asian Cup semifinal. With this victory, North Korea has improved their record with China to eight wins, three draws and one loss since 2001.

Elsewhere, Chinese women's volleyball team beat Chinese Taipei in the semifinals to set up an Asian Games clash with Japan for the fourth time.

(Xinhua News Agency December 11, 2006)

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