GUANGZHOU, China – Nozomi Nakano became the first Japanese ever to reach the finals in the women’s individual epee event after overcoming Yeung Chui Ling of Hong Kong in the semifinals on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Nakano edged Yeung 6-5 at Guangda Gymnasium to set up a final meeting with China’s Luo Xiaojuan later Saturday.
No Japanese woman has ever made a podium finish at the Asian Games since the individual epee debuted at the 1990 Beijing Games. Nakano had secured a medal after defeating Taiwan’s Cheng Ya-wen in the quarterfinals.
Elsewhere, Japan came in the eerily familiar position of second place in synchronized swimming as China won the team event.
China’s eight women received a total of 192.000 points. Japan was 5.875 behind at Foshan Aquatics Centre.
Earlier, Beijing Olympic silver medalist Yuki Ota came up short in his bid to defend his men’s individual foil title and settled for the bronze medal.
Choi Byung Chul of South Korea beat Ota 15-12 after scoring five consecutive points from a 12-10 deficit in the semifinals, ending Ota’s hopes of retaining the title he won at the 2006 Doha Games.
Ota is coming off competing at the world championships in Paris earlier this month, where he became the first Japanese to medal in an individual event at the worlds in taking the bronze.
“I couldn’t refocus after the world championships,” Ota said. “I could not get myself motivated. I had some good moments in the game but I couldn’t come through.”
“Four years ago, I wanted to be a sort of player who everyone else admires and says, ‘That’s Ota,’ ” he said. “That goal has come true. . .”
Nakayama on target
GUANGZHOU , China (Kyodo) Yukie Nakayama was on target to capture the gold medal in the women’s clay trap shoot while Eri Uehara and Hitomi Sugimoto won the doubles soft tennis title at the Asian Games on Friday.
Nakayama shot down the orange plates in succession with laser-like focus in the final, giving Japanese women their first ever gold in the event. Uehara-Sugimoto, meanwhile, rallied from three games down to beat South Korea’s Joo Og and Kim Aekyung 5-3.
In the pool, Yukiko Inui and Chisa Kobayashi finished a distant second to Chinese twins Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen in the duet synchronized swimming event.