JAKARTA, Indonesia – Japan and China all finished squarely in the gold medal standings during the Asian Games in a lanyard rehearsal for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
China had to win the last race of Friday to tie Japan to 19 gold pieces in the pool and they did so, making the men's 4×100 meter turnout relay with four hundredths of a second pinch in 3 minutes and 29.99 seconds.
China's world champion backstroker Xu Jiayu picked up his fifth gold medal, only the second male swimmer to win five in a single Asian game when he swam the opening leg in the relay race. But he was still outsider for the summit individual honor of the meeting.
That went to the Japanese teenager Rikako Ikee, whose performance with six gold medals and eight in general this week suggest that she might be one of the biggest drawcards of the guest nation at the Tokyo Olympics.
No other woman in any sport has ever collected more than five medals at a single Asian Games. The only competitor who has won more than her is North Korean shooter So Gin Man.
So seven gold coins won at the Asian Games in 1982 and eight medals in general. Ikee fell short of So & # 39; s golden tally, but joined his overall medal victory and did it the hard way.
No way to stop despite racing in high pressure sprints every day, Ikee saved her best for the last time with a win in the 50 freestyle final in 24.53, a record in Asian games.
China Liu Xiang, who had broken the 50th world record of the backstroke a few days earlier, lost a stroke for a stroke with Ikee over the entire length to hit only a fraction later in 24.60.
"I really hate losing," Ikee said. "I think it was just my will that helped me win.
"I was really bothered by the last few meters, but I just concentrated on the touch and luckily I was there first, but I used up all the energy I had."
Yasuhiro Koseki completed the triple breasts for Japan when he won the 50 in 27.07. And although the sporting superpowers of the two regions reached the level of gold swimming, Japan won more overall medals than China, 52-50.
The next countries that came closest were Singapore and South Korea, each of which had six. Joseph Schooling, the Olympic 100 butterfly champion, won the two gold coins of his country. South Korea took its first swimming gold in Jakarta when Kim Seo-yeong took the 200 individual medley of the women.
Sun Yang and Wang Jianjiahe, China & # 39; s unstoppable freestylers, each finished with four gold coins after winning their last events.
Only 16, Wang added the 400 to her previous victories in the 800, 1,500 and 4×200 relay. Sun, the former world swimmer of the year, won the 1,500 in 14: 58.53, slower according to his standards, but still an important victory because it saw him complete an unprecedented flight of 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 events.
"This is my third straight gold freestyle gold medal of 1,500 meters at the Asian Games, which means 12 years, it's so hard to achieve that," Sun said. "I hope that the four gold and two silver medals I won here would inspire me to work harder, because I want to achieve even better results in the future.
"To be honest, the pressure on me for the races was huge, but I managed to tackle it and held it to the end."
Sun said he was happy with his six medals, including two in relay, and "the performance here would certainly be a boost for my future races."
The triple Olympic champion Sun offered to help the team in the relay races, although it took the edge of his favorite distance competitions.
"If you participate in multiple events, there is more responsibility on your shoulders, and I have participated in many events as an example for young athletes," he said. "The competition between China and Japan is not over yet, it will take until the Olympic Games of 2020.
"We have to learn the lessons and avoid the mistakes from these games."
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