North Korea’s Om Yun Chol sets world record
INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s Om Yun Chol beat his own world record in the men’s 56-kilogram clean and jerk by 1 kilogram on Saturday to grab weightlifting gold on the first day of competition at the Asian Games.
Om, the 2012 Olympic champion and 2013 world champion, lifted 170 kilograms Saturday to earn North Korea’s first gold medal at the games — a regional version of the Olympics. Om also had a combined total of 298 kilograms to mark an Asian Games record after lifting 128 kilograms in the snatch.
Isolated North Korea has 150 athletes competing in 14 sports at the games in the South Korean city of Incheon, where they are being cheered by local fans despite the bitter hostility between their governments dating from the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Margarita Yelisseyeva of Kazakhstan won the other weightlifting gold in the women’s 48-kilogram category with a combined weight of 194 kilograms.
At the end of the first day, hosts South Korea topped the medal table with five golds and a total of 13 medals. Powerhouse China was second with five golds and 11 medals overall. Mongolia is third with two golds, one silver and one bronze.
South Korea dominated in fencing, winning both gold and silver in the men’s epee individual and women’s saber individual. Lee Ra-jin edged out teammate Olympic gold medalist Kim Jiyeon to win the saber gold, while Olympic bronze medalist Jung Jin-sun defeated teammate Park Kyong-doo in the epee.
“It was pressuring at first because the fencing matches were placed at the beginning of the Asian Games,” Jung said. “But if we get to the end in this condition, I think we will be able to win eight, nine or even 10 gold medals.”
Kim said she was only slightly disappointed to have lost to another South Korean fencer.
“It’s true that I used up a lot of energy in the semifinal round, but I’d like to think that I lost because Lee Ra-jin played well,” Kim said.
Two bronzes were awarded in both events, split between fencers from China, Vietnam and Singapore.
Both of Mongolia’s golds came in judo, with Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj winning the men’s 66-kilogram class and Urantsetseg Munkhbat taking the women’s 48-kilogram competition. Japan’s Misato Nakamura won the women’s 52-kilogram class and Yeldos Smetov took gold in the men’s 60 kilogram.
In women’s football, highly favored North Korea downed minnows Hong Kong 5-0.
In cycling, China and South Korea split the golds in the team sprint, with the hosts winning the men’s competition and China taking the women’s.
China also struck gold in synchronized swimming, leaving the silver to Japan and bronze to Kazakhstan.
Teams from 45 countries and regions from the Far East to the Middle East are competing in 42 sports at the games, including eight — such as bowling, cricket and squash — that aren’t part of the Olympic program.
China’s team of almost 900 athletes is the largest, with 68 percent of its athletes taking part in their first Asiad. Brunei has the smallest team at just 11 athletes.
A highlight of the 16-day games comes as early as Sunday, when China’s Olympic champion swimmer Sun Yang faces his chief rival, Park Tae-hwan of South Korea. They are due to clash in the 200-, 400-, and 1,500-meter freestyle events.
Also Saturday, Indonesia was formally named the host country for the 2018 Asian Games, filling the void created when Vietnam relinquished its hosting rights over financial concerns.
Indonesia’s National Olympic Committee said Saturday that events would be held in the capital of Jakarta, along with the regions of South Sumatra and West Java.