Tottenham’s Son avoids military duty with Asian Games gold
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Tottenham forward Son Heung-min will get to skip military service.
Son avoided the service obligation when South Korea defeated Japan 2-1 in the Asian Games soccer final on Saturday.
The South Korean government rewards holders of Asian Games gold medals and all Olympic medals with the exemption. Military service is compulsory for South Korean males, and Son would have faced at least 21 months of service and the loss of millions in income.
Son had a hand in both goals, and ran wildly around the field at the end, hugging teammates while hundreds of South Korea flags were whipped about in the stands.
He was thanked Tottenham for allowing him to play in Indonesia, where he captained South Korea.
“I feel great, feel unbelievable, feel amazing,” he said.
With the match in extra time after 0-0 in regulation, Son got the break he wanted from teammate Lee Seung-woo.
In the 93rd minute, Son broke toward the middle and shuffled a pass to Lee, who drove the ball with his left foot into the top of the net. He immediately posed atop signage beside the field, celebrating his minute of glory.
South Korea clinched it eight minutes later on a leaping header inside the far post from Hwang Hee-chan. The 101st-minute goal prompted Son to embrace South Korea coach Kim Hak-bum on the sidelines.
Japan’s Ayase Ueda scored on a header with five minutes left to make it close.
South Korea had 65 percent of the possession in regulation time, and had a wide edge in shots, and shots on goal.
Son almost got the winning goal himself, but his shot just seconds into extra time sailed inches wide of the far post.
Saturday was the last full day of competition at the Asian Games with only one medal event on Sunday — mixed triathlon. The closing ceremony is also on Sunday.
China, Japan and South Korea — as always — dominated. But several other nations closed ground slowly, making the Big Three not quite as dominant.
China had 289 overall, with 132 gold, 92 silver and 65 bronze. Japan won 204 (74-56-74) and South Korea had 176 (49-57-70). They were followed in the gold-medal ranking order by: Indonesia (31), Uzbekistan (21), Iran (20) and Taiwan (17). India and Kazakhstan each had 15.
Japan came up short as South Korea won gold in baseball with a 3-0 victory. In the bronze medal game, Taiwan pummeled China 10-0.
China won women’s basketball, defeating the combined Koreas team 71-65. Shao Ting topped China’s scorers with 17 points. Lim Yunghui was the top Korean scorer with 24. Park Ji-su had 15.
“I still believe that we could have gotten a gold medal if we had enough practice time,” Park, the WNBA star, said through an interpreter. “We just trained as a combined team for a month.”
The women’s squad included nine South Koreans and three from North Korea.
Dragon boat races also delivered a gold medal and two bronzes for the combined Koreas teams — the feel-good story of the Asian Games.
China’s men’s basketball team also took gold, defeating Iran 84-72.
As expected, China swept all five gold medals in table tennis, including the two all-China singles finals on Saturday.
Fan Zhendong defeated Lin Gaoyuan in the men’s final, and for the women Chen Meng beat Wang Manyu.
China beat Thailand 3-0 in the women’s volleyball final, and on the men’s side Iran defeated South Korea 3-0.
Kazakhstan defeated Japan 8-7 to take the men’s gold in water polo.
Japan beat China 7-5 to take gold in women’s rugby sevens, and Hong Kong won gold in the men’s version, beating Japan 14-0.
Japan defeated Malaysia in men’s field hockey, winning a shootout 3-1 after the match was tied 6-6.
AP reporter Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.