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China scale new heights with Yang

December 07, 2006 07:01 IST

Yang Wei grabbed his eighth gold to join Li Ning as the most successful gymnast in Asian Games history as the Qatari capital continued to ring to the sound of the Chinese national anthem on Wednesday.

"March of the Volunteers" was played 15 times on day five in Doha and China increased their golden haul to 76, more than half their tally from Pusan 2002 with two-thirds of the Games still remaining.

Yang, taking part in his third Games, shared gold with South Korea's Kim Dae-eun in the parallel bars to match the mark set by compatriot Li, China's "Athlete of the 20th Century".

The medal, Yang's fourth of these Games, was also a record-equalling 11th overall, although Li won one more silver.

"It's finally over," Yang told China's Xinhua news agency. "Now I just want to have a good sleep. A holiday is even better."

Zhang Nan overcame an unsteady routine to take gold in the women's beam final, claiming an historic 100th gold medal in artistic gymnastics for China at the Games.

Super-heavyweight weightlifter Mu Shuangshuang snatched a world record 139kgs -- 9kgs more than her bodyweight -- on the way to grabbing China's 10th weightlifting gold in Doha, pipping the previous mark held by South Korea's Jang Mi-ran by 1kg.

"IRANIAN HERCULES"

"This time I did it," said Mu, who tied with Jang at the last two world championships but lost gold because of her heavier weight. "And now that I have, I'm going to keep doing it forever."

"Iranian Hercules" Hossein Rezazadeh then closed the weightlifting competition with a majestic display to claim his third consecutive superheavy title.

In the pool, China's reigning champion Chen Zuo shattered his own Asian record by more than half a second in the men's 100m freestyle.

After a series of scathing attacks by their coach, China responded by winning the first three of Wednesday's finals, two of them with one-two finishes.

Xu Yanwei won the women's 100m freestyle in 55.02 then said the team had been unhappy with their performances and had been instructed to go out and make amends.

"Before it was too bad. The team was frustrated," she said. "The coach told us what had happened. He told us to try our best and go out and get the gold."

Vietnam won their first gold by beating sepaktakraw powerhouse Thailand in a thrilling four-hour women's team final of a sport where players kick and head a rattan ball over a net.

"We might not be as proficient in our skills, but the girls do have a big heart," said Vietnam coach Tung Lap Ha.

"The Vietnamese star on our bandanas represents how much we love our country."

EXTRA SPECIAL

The most passionate crowd of the day was at the final of the kabaddi where India beat Pakistan 35-23 to retain their title in the sport which looks like a game of playground tag played out on a netball court.

"Of course winning the gold medal is that extra bit special because we beat Pakistan," said Indian S.S. Parwana, one of the lucky thousand or so inside the ground while a similar number were locked outside.

Kazakhstan continued to prosper, picking up their ninth and 10th titles with victories in the men's cycling team time trial and men's 10-metre running target team shooting event.

Andrey Mizurov, who also won the Asian Games team time trial 12 years ago in Hiroshima, said the cycling title would be a boost to the sport in the former Soviet state.

"This is yet another gold medal for us. A plus for our country. It means not everything is lost. We will continue to pave the way for the next generation," the 33-year-old said.

Japan picked five titles to remain in second place on the medals table with 22 golds, seven better than South Korea.

North Korea knocked Japan out of the soccer tournament and set up a quarter-final clash against South Korea with a shock 2-1 win.

China, Iraq and Iran all won to join the North Koreans in the last eight along with Thailand, Uzbekistan and hosts Qatar.

Gan Lin won his second shooting gold, one of five for the Chinese as once again their marksmen and women set the pace early in the day. Their women rowers also got in on the act, winning the women's double sculls and women's fours.

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