DOHA – Japan added four more gold medals to its Asian Games coffers on Sunday with top-class performances in the men’s hurdles and pole vault, the women’s long jump and the men’s team cycling sprint.
It was a day that also saw Uzbek weightlifters Elmira Ramileva and Alexander Urinov disqualified for failing doping tests, bringing the number of such cases at Doha to three following the disqualification of Myanmar weightlifter Than Kyi Kyi.
On the cycling track, Kazunari Watanabe, Kazuya Narita and Yudai Nitta had enough natural strength to clock 45.590 seconds in the three-lap men’s sprint to edge China by 0.083 and give Japan its first track cycling gold of the Games. Taiji Nishitani also took silver in the individual pursuit behind South Korea’s Jang Sun Jae who covered the 4,000 meters in 4:35.433 to Nishitani’s 4:42.081.
In track and field Japan then produced a hat trick of golds, with Kenji Narisako taking the first in the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 48.78 seconds, just ahead of China’s Meng Yan in 49.26 and compatriot Naohiro Kawakita, who clocked 50.19 for the bronze.
In the men’s pole vault, Daichi Sawano produced an effort of 5.60 meters to pip Leonid Andreev of Uzbekistan (5.55) to gold, with China’s Yang Yansheng (5.50) taking bronze, while in the women’s long jump Kumiko Ikeda pulled off a leap of 6.81 to blow away India’s Anju Bobby George on 6.52 and Kazakhastan’s Olga Rypakova on 6.49. Ikeda took the lead on her second attempt with 6.68, which none of the other competitors in the 14-woman field could top.
In the women’s 400-meter hurdles, Satomi Kubokura won silver for Japan in 56.49, behind the 55.41 of China’s Huang Xiaoxiao, with Mohd Khalid Noraseela of Malaysia getting bronze in 56.85.
Asami Tanno grabbed the bronze in the women’s 400 meters in 53.04, with Olga Tereshkova of Kazakhstan winning gold in 51.86 and India’s Manjeet Kaur the silver in 52.17, but in the men’s 400 meters Yuzo Kanemaru just missed out with a fourth-place finish.
In the gym, Yukari Murata took her second silver in Doha after finishing runnerup to Kazakhstan’s Aliya Yussupova in the individual all-around rhythmic event. Murata collected 59.125 points to Yussupova’s 63.925 in adding to the silver she gained on Saturday in the team competition, won by Kazakhstan.
Yussupova led the field in all four disciplines — the rope, ball, clubs and ribbon. China’s Xiao Yiming took bronze with 58.525, while Yuria Onuki was seventh with 56.100.
On the first day of the diving competition, Japan’s Misako Yamashita and Mai Nakagawa also took silver in the women’s synchronized 10-meter platform with 317.70 points, behind Chinese gold winners Jia Tong and Chen Ruolin on 344.52, while North Korea’s Hong In Sun and Choe Kum Hui took bronze on 302.76.
Earlier in the day, Satoshi Osaki grabbed bronze for Japan in the men’s marathon, won by Qatar’s Mubarak Hassan Shami in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 44 seconds. Osaki timed 2:15:36 to place behind Bahrain’s Khalid Kamal Yaseen in a photo finish for third place, with Satoshi Irifune in fourth in 2:17:24.
Japan has not won the men’s marathon gold at the Asian Games since Takeyuki Nakayama did so in 1986 in Seoul. South Korean runners had won the last four marathon golds but Ji Young Jun’s seventh-place finish was the country’s best this time.
Japan took two more bronzes in Greco-Roman wrestling, when Masaki Imuro beat Kazakhstan’s Aibek Yensekhanov 2-1 in the 66-kg third-place playoff, and Shingo Matsumoto repeated the feat by a similar score against Alexandr Dokturishivili of Uzbekistan in the 84-kg class.
But in fencing there was no repeat of Saturday’s gold medal for Japan as Shizuka Ikehata was outpointed 15-11 in the women’s individual epee quarterfinal by China’s Li Na, while in handball the Japanese women lost to South Korea 28-21 but had already booked a berth in Monday’s semifinals where they will face Kazakhstan.
In women’s volleyball, Japan advanced to a final showdown with Olympic champion China after dispatching Thailand 32-30, 25-17, 25-17 in the semis. Miyuki Takahashi scored a match-high 15 points and Sachiko Sugiyama added 13 to lead the Japanese women, bronze winners in the previous four Asian Games, into the final for the first time since they finished runners-up to China in 1986.