South Korea beat defending champion Cuba 3-2 Saturday to win Asia's first Olympic baseball gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Lee Yong-kyu opened the winning team's lead with a two run homer in the first inning and teammate Park Jim-man added one point in the seventh inning.
Cuba's Michel Enriquez and Alexei Bell homered respectively in the first and seventh innings.
The winning team has won nine consecutive victories from the preliminaries to the semifinal and eventually the gold medal fight. This is only the second time in Olympic baseball history the gold medalists have been undefeated throughout the tournament.
"We came to the Beijing Games with an aim to enter the semifinal, and most luckily win a bronze medal," said South Korea's team manager Kim Kyung-moon after the match.
He said winning the gold medal and going through all nine matches unbeaten had something to do with good luck, and declined to make comparison on the skills of team South Korea and other traditional strong teams of Cuba, the United States and Japan.
On the Cuban side, team manager Antonio Pacheco said the South Korean team fought extremely well in the tournament and they deserved the title.
"They have good pitchers, and our batters can't give full performance to their capabilities as the South Korean pitchers did so well in the match," he said.
Talking about baseball's departure from the Olympics, Pacheco said it's a pity that the International Olympic Committee has decided not to include baseball in the 2012 London Games. However, he added that as a national game in Cuba, baseball will still enjoy high popularity in his country.
Asia's first Olympic baseball gold medal could also be the last one for this sport as whether baseball can re-enter the Games remains unclear.
In another match played earlier Saturday, the United States defeated Japan to take the bronze medal.
(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2008)