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Asian Games 2018: Carnival time for Japan as Koreas eye emotional hoops gold

Japan’s Aska Cambridge (centre) wins the final of the men's 4x100m relay athletics event during the 2018 Asian Games. (Jewel SAMAD/AFP)



JAKARTA: Japan's sprinters conjured up the spirit of the Rio Olympics as they raced to Asian Games gold on Thursday (Aug 30), while Unified Korea moved within sight of an emotional women's basketball title.

Two years after Japan won a stunning Olympic silver behind Usain Bolt's Jamaica, three of the same runners teamed up again for an emphatic 4x100 metres relay win in Jakarta.

This time around, Aska Cambridge had a clear track rather than Bolt in front of him as he thundered home in 38.16 seconds - 0.61 ahead of Indonesia, who sent the home fans delirious as the hosts won their first relay medal since 1966.

"We came here for the gold so we are happy to get the job done," said Japan's Ryota Yamagata. "We have pressure for the (Tokyo 2020) Olympics but we have confidence too."

Nigerian-born Edidiong Odiong clinched a sprint treble as Bahrain won the women's 4x100m relay in 42.73, to add to her 100m and 200m crowns.

Bahraini athletes went one-two in the women's 1,500m and the men's 5,000m as the Gulf state finished the athletics programme level with China on 12 golds.

There were joyous scenes at the basketball as athletes from North and South Korea, competing together after a marked thaw in relations, trounced Taiwan 89-66 to set up a final against China.

Beanpole centre Park Ji-su chipped in with 10 points - one of six Korean players in double figures - in her first game since being released by WNBA team the Las Vegas Aces.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Korea forward Kim Han-byul told AFP, after a win cheered on by fans brandishing the blue-and-white Korean unification flag.

"It's definitely historical - just the fact the North Korean girls are able to play with us," added Kim.

ALL BLACKS OF ASIA

Japan were once known as the easy-beats of world rugby but they are more like the All Blacks against Asian opposition, a point they hammered home as they crushed Indonesia by a record 92-0 in sevens.

Coincidentally, Japan's women also set a new Games record, and against the same opposition, when they spanked the hosts 65-0 -- the second biggest win in female sevens history, after Kazakhstan's 74-0 victory against Laos in 2014.

Japan racked up record wins in both the women's and the men's rugby sevens. (AFP/Martin BUREAU)

In cycling, Malaysia's "Pocket Rocketman" Azizulhasni Awang powered to men's sprint gold - and then shaved off his moustache to celebrate.

"I kept the moustache when I came to Jakarta to look a bit more fierce. Part of my gameplan," explained the 1.66m (5ft 5in) Olympic bronze medallist.

Uzbekistan finished with six out of seven gold medals in the Central Asian wrestling sport of kurash, while China won four of the six canoeing titles decided on Thursday.

China also picked up another two diving titles and won the mixed doubles table tennis as they increased their haul to 112 gold medals, ahead of Japan's 59, 39 for South Korea and 30 for Indonesia.

-- Courtesy of channelnewsasia.com


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