News of December 20th

China Still Dominant in Asian Games

After taking 129 gold medals to top the medal table at the 13th Asian Games, China proved they are still the dominant force in Asian sports.

The Chinese delegation, which clean swept gold medals in the sports of Wushu, rowing, diving and the women's weightlifting, collected 129 gold, 78 silver and 67 bronze medals for a total of 274 in the 15-day Asiad.

With South Korea and Japan finished a distant second and third with 65 and 52 gold medals respectively, China's domination in th Asiad is even more eminent.

But as Chinese sports officials were satisfied with the number of gold medals their athletes won, they had the reason to be dissatisfied with the performances their athletes put up in the Asian Games.

At the Bangkok Asiad, Chinese athletes failed to deliver the usual spree of stunning world records and gold medals.

The only eye-catching performance of Chinese athletes came in the women's weightlifting in which China is a powerhouse even at the Olympic level.

Chinese women's lifters broke 13 world records and won all the 7 gold medals.

But they found their domination being challenged by those from Myanmar, Thailand and DPR Korea for the first time in Asiad history. And the Chinese head coach admitted that in the following two or three years, Chinese women lifters will have to face a even more serious challenge.

Chinese world-class gymnasts also felt a bit uneasy as two of the 14 gold medals slipped off their hands as they only managed a mediocre performance.

Chinese women's cagers were even humiliated by their Japanese counterparts in the final, losing with a big margin of 24 points. The Chinese athletics team, which said could win at least 18-20 golds before the tournament, missed their target and barely edged their Japanese opponents 15-12 in medal table.

But in the swimming pool, China suffered a bitter defeat to the Japanese, winning only 13 golds to Japan's 15.

It was the first time since the 1990 Asian Games that China was beaten in the pool by their Japanese rivals.

Even the all-conquering Chinese diving team could fully enjoy their victories in the competitions though they as usual took all the four gold medals with great ease.

As deputy team manager Zhou Jihong put it, the performances of Chinese divers at the Asiad were not so satisfactory, "if we compete at this level in major international meets, we will be no match to ace divers like Demitry Sautin." Zhou said.

But taking the fact China fielded mostly the young hopefuls at the Asian Games into consideration, China have basically achieved all their aims.

Tu Mingde, Secretary General of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said:"Our athletes have learnt a lot about winning fairly and sportsmanship. We've basically achieved all our aims."

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Japan Fails to Reach Target in Bangkok Asiad, Sports Chief

Despite toppling China from the swimming pool, Japan still felt unsatisfied with the second spot in the overall gold tally at the Asian Games which had its last event concluded Sunday morning.

As South Korea took the men's marathon, Japan was kept at bay with 52 golds against South Korea's 65, not to mention the distant front-runner China who has 129 golds to its credit, which was far below its 64 golds collected in Hiroshima.

Teruji Kogake, Chef de Mission of the Japanese delegation, was reluctant in cheering for the Japanese success in athletics and swimming, saying the results were mainly due to China sending younger and less experienced athletes, not Japanese improvement. Japan outbeat China 15-13 in the swimming pool as Chinese woman swimmer Chen Yan skipped three events due to diarrhea, and more than doubled its athletics gold tally from five to 12, with a sole Asian record set up by its man sprinter Koji Ito who clocked 10.00 seconds in the 100m semifinal.

However, the Japanese top official was still full of sorrow as its team sports had the worst performances in the Bangkok meet. "We were shocked that our soccer team did so poorly, and our baseball team suffered a called game in the finals," he said at a news conference prior to the end of the Games, "There are cases where we expected victories, but ended up with painful losses." As the Games to be rolled down its curtain this evening, Japan had gold medals from 11 sports as opposed to 20 in the Hiroshima Games four years ago, Kogake said.

In an overall review, Japan lost to South Korea in 14 of 15 encounters in team events, losing one of its most prized medals in baseball to South Korea 13-1 in the final.

The first shock was the team's early exit from the football tournament when the United Arab Emirates dampened Olympian dreams of Japan's under-21 football squad in the early stage. Its volleyball players, who once dominated the world, ended their worst Asian Games tournament with the men finishing fourth and the women third.

The only bright spot was the women's basketball team, winning gold against China, Kogake said.

"We have a lot of work to do in the next one year and nine months before the Olympics," Kogake said.

With its biggest-ever squad of 630 athletes, Japan had aimed to do better than in Hiroshima to narrow a wide gap behind China, who dethroned them in the Asian Games gold-medal standings in 1982. Yet, the gap was widened instead and would have been ever worse but for a series of brilliant performances from its swimmers and track stars.

"It is very disappointing to miss our main target," said Kogake, "If we don't take an appropriate action, we won't even get 50 at the next Games in Pusan."

"We must use the setbacks in the games as an impetus to put together the strongest possible team for the Sydney Olympics," said Kogake.

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Cleanest Asian Games Rings Down Curtain

The 13th Asian Games, hailed by organizers as one of the cleanest ever, concluded on Sunday with South Korea trailing unbeatable China and Japan languishing in third place.

China remains Asia's top sports power although it has declined in swimming and track. Its collection of 129 golds was nearly double South Korea's haul.

High-tech and greater awareness made the Bangkok Games one of the cleanest sports events in the world. There were only two drug cases involving a Jordanian and a Kuwaiti weightlifter, none of whom was among the medal winners.

The 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima was tarnished by widespread drug use including 11 positive tests by Chinese. A dark chapter in Asian sports was not repeated in Bangkok.

South Korea snatched the second place from Japan, which finished after China and South Korea in the Hiroshima Games but was later raised to second after seven Chinese swimmers tested positive and their medals were stripped of and redistributed. Despite winning 52 golds against South Korea's 65, Japan emerged the best performer in this games.

Japaese Naoko Takahashi opened the competition with probably the top performance of the games, winning in Thailand's tropical heat in the fifth fastest women's marathon ever.

Koji Ito, Japan's golden boy, posted the Asian record of 10.00 seconds in the 100m dash. His incridable time over 100m and three golds earned him the honor as the games' most valuable player. Chinese table tennis player Wang Nan turned out the most crowned athlete in the games. She won four golds from women's team, doubles, singles and mixed double and is set to take over invincible Deng Yaping as the world top player.

West triumphed over east in soccer field as Iran and Kuwait finished 1-2 and 2002 World Cup co-hosts South Korea and Japan suffered early exits.

A golden goal against South Korea made Thailand forget about all its economic difficulties for two days until the host team was blanked 3-0 in the semifinals by Kuwait.

The list of title-winning delegations was expanded as 23 countries and regions stuck gold in this games against 20 in Hiroshima and 15 in the 1990 Games in Beijing.

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Closer Scrutiny for Drugs Make Asiad One of Cleanest

High-tech and greater awareness have made the 13th Asian Games one of the cleanest sports extravaganzas in the world.

All drug tests for the two-week games, which is to close Sunday night, were carried out with the most sophisticated tool available. Only two turned positive.

"I cannot say whether it is the cleanest games, because we have not conducted tests on every athlete, but we think so," said Dr Ruangsak Siriphol, chairman of the Games Medical Committee, which supervised drug testing.

There were only two drug cases involved a Jordanian and a Kuwaiti weightlifter. Both men were not among the medal winners when their drug-taking was discovered.

Jaber Tashid al-Ajimi of Kuwait, who finished 10th in the men's over 105kg class on Monday, tested positive for the streroid nandrolen.

Jordan's Ayed Jassar Khawalde, in the 56kg division, was thrown out of the games after testing positive for triamterene, a diuretic.

The Asian Games in 1994 in Hiroshima was tarnished by widespread drug use including 11 positive tests by Chinese. Among those Chinese failures, seven were swimmers.

Chinese swimmers further disgraced themselves in the world swimming championships in Perth, Australia, in January, where four tested positive for diuretics and the other caught in the Sydney Customs for bringing human growth hormone.

Dr Ruangsak said more than 700 of nearly 7,000 athletes who took part in the Bangkok Games were tested during the event. He said the lack of drugs allowed the world to at last see the true potential of Asian athletes.

"It means that the true potential of Asian athletes is the same as in any other region in the world," Dr Ruangsak said. The Asian Games used a half-million-dollars piece of equipment called a carbon isotope ratio mass spectrometer. The new technology, first used at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, allows the laboratory to differentiate between testosterone naturally produced by the body and that illicitly ingested to boost muscle mass.

A cleaner games underlines that awareness against doping has been raised in Asia.

International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch said days before the Asian Games that China set an example in doping control and education.

Chinese athletes received random tests in the run-up to the games. Blood tests, more rigorous than the standard urine tests, were carried out in Chinese swimmers.

"We had tested the games-bound swimmers several times, none was positive," said Chinese swimming head coach Zhang Xiong.

Shang Xiutang, Secretary General of the Chinese Athletics Association, repeatedly reminded Chinese athletes not to take any medication even though they had fever or cough.

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