OBIHIRO, HOKKAIDO – Miho Takagi claimed her third speedskating medal at the Asian Winter Games on Tuesday with a victory in the women’s 1,500 meters, while Nao Kodaira earned her second gold after beating two-time defending Olympic champ Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea in the 500-meter competition.
In the men’s event, Takuro Oda won the 1,000.
A day after grabbing gold in the 3,000 and silver in the 1,000, Takagi topped the podium again with a winning time of 1 minute, 56.07 seconds, a new Asian record.
Misaki Oshigiri took silver in 1:58.13, Nana Takagi, Miho’s elder sister, logged the third-fastest time of 1:59.45, and Ayano Sato was fourth in 1:59.77.
With Olympic Council of Asia regulations prohibiting three athletes from the same country winning all the medals, China’s Zhang Hong, who finished fifth in 2:00.14, received the bronze.
“I’m glad I didn’t drop off at the end, but (my time in) the first 600 meters was not fast enough when you consider the world standard,” Takagi said.
“This was the event where we had the biggest chance of filling the top four spots, and being able to do that was very significant for us as a Japan national team.”
Kodaira, unbeaten in six World Cup events this season and the winner of the 1,000 meters at the meet on Monday, logged a new Asian record of 37.39 seconds to finish ahead of Lee’s 37.70. Arisa Go logged 37.73 for the bronze.
“I wasn’t at my best physically, around 80 percent of my full fitness. But I wanted to race against a strong sprinter and it was a good simulation (for the 2018 Winter Olympics),” Kodaira said.
“She got ahead of me in the first 100, but I was confident of accelerating at the curve so I was calm. I didn’t care too much about who I was competing against and was more focused on my own race.”
Lee said she was carrying an injury herself, and was quietly confident of success at the Olympics next year in her homeland.
“I won the bronze medal in the last Asian Games in Kazakhstan so it’s better (this time) and I’m still happy,” she said. “I have a pain in my leg but the first 200 meters was OK, and that’s why I’m still feeling OK with the result.
“Other skaters will have pressure but I’ve won two Olympics already,” Kodaira said. “This year is not important.”
Oda also set a new Asian record 1:09.33, ahead of Denis Kuzin of Kazakhstan (1:09.64). Shunsuke Nakamura secured the bronze in 1:09.76.
“It was the best race I had recently. I’ve been struggling at the second curve, but I’ve been working on not killing the pace there and it all clicked,” said Oda, who won his first international title.
“I’m happy, definitely. I swung a bit at the final corner and that’s something new for me to work on. I can get an even better result if I manage that part.”
Japan completed the gold-medal by winning the women’s team pursuit. The team of Oshigiri, Nana Takagi and Ayano Sato cruised to victory in 3:00.08. South Korea timed 3:06.67 for the silver, followed by China’s 3:10.23.
Yuki Kobayashi captured the gold medal in the women’s 10-km freestyle cross-country skiing competition at the Asian Winter Games on Tuesday.
Kobayashi crossed the finish line in 30 minutes, 24.6 seconds in the two-lap race at Shirahatayama Open Stadium, while South Korea’s Lee Chae-won took second with a time of 30:49.0 and Yelena Kolomina of Kazakhstan finished third in 31:14.4.
“I saved my energy and picked up the pace in the last 3 kilometers. I’m aiming for gold in my other events as well,” Kobayashi said.
In the men’s 15-km freestyle race, which was won by Rinat Mukhin of Kazakhstan in 41:25.3, Naoto Baba was second (41:29.8) and compatriot Akira Lenting placed third (41:33.3).
Nobuhito Kashiwabara, who claimed bronze in the 1.4-km sprint classical on Monday, finished ninth.
Also Tuesday, the men’s ski jumping events at Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium was postponed until Wednesday due to strong winds.
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