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Saori Yoshida spared Japan’s blushes in women’s wrestling to complete a freestyle 55-kg three-peat and world bronze medalist Yukifumi Murakami recorded a personal best on his second throw to win the men’s javelin final amid a late Japanese gold rush at the Asia Games on Friday.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Yoshida racked up points against Chinese opponent Zhang Lan with her quick tenacious leg holds, giving Japan its lone women’s wrestling gold in the wake of a series of upsets by their top wrestlers.

“I’m happy that I won for the third straight time at the Asian Games and it is a good steppingstone for the London Olympics,” said Yoshida, also an eight-time world champion. “I hope to continue winning.”

“The first round I fought well, but the second round, I think I was too wary of her fireman’s carry technique and my legs didn’t move as well,” Yoshida said. “I still have room for improvement.”

Beijing bronze medalist Kyoko Hamaguchi settled for another bronze in the 72 kg, going one worse after winning gold at 2002 Busan and silver at the 2006 Doha Games. She fell at the hands of China’s Li Dan in the quarterfinals and took the bronze with a win by fall over South Korea’s Bae Mi Kyung.

Mio Nishimaki missed a chance to redeem herself in the 63-kg repechage round after China’s Chen Meng rolled over the two-time world champion en route to a win by fall. Nishimaki finished fifth.

Murakami, the Japan delegation’s captain, launched a soaring effort of 83.15 meters to claim victory, making it third time lucky after finishing runnerup in Busan, South Korea, in 2002 and in Doha four years ago.

“I’ve finally got the gold,” said Murakami. “I was confident and was able to put my second throw exactly where I was aiming for. I’m delighted. This was an event I knew I had to win.”

South Korea’s Park Jae Myoung won the silver with a toss of 79.92 and Rinat Tarzumanov grabbed the bronze with a top heave of 79.65.

Momotaro Matsushita bagged two of Japan’s three gold medals won earlier in the day in the canoe/kayak event, while Shingo Nishiki skated his way to victory in the men’s single of the roller sports event.

Matsushita prevailed in the men’s kayak single 200 meters with a time of 36.279 seconds to beat China’s Zhou Peng and Alexey Mochalov of Uzbekistan, before partnering Keiji Mizumoto to victory in the double 200.

“I’m delighted,” said Matsushita. “I got off to a slow start but was able to keep my composure. It was a really close thing at the end.”

Shinobu Kitamoto shrugged off shoulder pain and also came through with the gold medal in a twice-run race in the women’s kayak single 200, posting a winning time of 41.194 ahead of China’s Zhou Yu (41.229) and Kazakhstan’s Natalya Sergeyeva (42.220).

Ueno blanks China

GUANGZHOU , China (Kyodo) Beijing Olympic gold medal-winning pitcher Yukiko Ueno threw a one-hitter Friday as Japan beat host China 2-0 in the final to win its third consecutive Asian Games softball title.

Ueno allowed just three runners — on a single, a walk and an error — over seven masterful innings to highlight her first tournament back on the national team.

Satoko Mabuchi led the offense, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

The cleanup hitter had a leadoff double and went on to score the opening run in the fourth on an Emi Matsuoka groundout. She added a run-scoring single two innings later at Tianhe Softball Field.

The two runs were more than enough for Ueno against China, which edged Taiwan 2-1 in the previous round.

The hard-throwing right-hander, who had made herself unavailable after the 2008 Olympics as she sought her coaching qualifications, finished with eight strikeouts.

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