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Wang Hongni Snatches First Asiad Women's Triathlon Gold
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A superb display on the bike saw China's Wang Hongni crowned the first ever Asian Games women's triathlon champion on Friday.

In cool and overcast weather, Wang covered the Olympic distance -- 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run, in one hour 59 minutes and 44 seconds, beating pre-event favorite Ai Ueda of Japan to second place in 2:04:04.

Wang, ranked 5th in Asia, emerged from the swim in Doha Bay in second place, following Malaysia's Yap Fui Li.

But she hit the front with the quickest transition and never looked back, pedaling out to a 5.43 minutes lead on the 40km bike leg over Asian champion Ai Ueda.

Wang's teammate Xing Lin joined her for a brief period in the pedaling, but the 23-year-old's power and superior technical skills soon left Xing and the rest of the field trailing.

Ueda managed to reduce this huge gap to just under 4:21 minutes on the final 10 km run leg, but Wang held her form throughout the run and hit the finishing line first to the cheering of spectators.

"I'm very happy, very excited, I just cannot express my feelings! I feel relaxed now," said Wang, a former cyclist before converting to triathlon.

"Cycling is my strongest point, I have the ability because I practiced," said Wang, adding that her tactics of gaining a lead in an early stage also helped her win.

Sekine Akiko of Japan won a bronze medal in 2:04:48. Wang's teammate Xing Lin ended fourth in 2:05:36.77.

In men's triathlon competition on Friday, Dmitriy Gaag of Kazakhstan won the gold medal with a time of one hour 50 minutes and 53.14 seconds.

The silver medal was taken by Lee Chi Wo Daniel of Hong Kong, China in 1:51:18.99, followed by Daniil Sapunov of Kazakhstan in the third place in 1:51:20.55.

The win "certainly gives me confidence before the beginning of the Beijing Olympic Games and it's an important victory for the overall ranking of Kazakhstan," said Dmitriy Gaag.

Lee Chi Wo Daniel called the silver medal a "real record" for himself. "Every one has his own goal and I wanted to win a medal,” he said.

It is the first time that the triathlon event is included in the Asian Games.

(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2006)

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