Korean Ji Young-Jun and Chinese Zhou Chunxiu won the men's and women's marathon titles on the final day of the Asian Games here on Saturday. Ji Young-Jun clocked 2:11:11 while Zhou Chunxiu timed a season best 2:25:00.
On an up-and-down course at a nearby island, Young-Jun broke free from defending champion Mubarak Hassan Shami of Qatar towards the end to breast the tape untroubled and raised his arms in victory, letting out a shout as well.
After about 40 minutes, Ji Young-Jun made his first move, pushing himself ahead of the leading pack that included the early leader Salem Gamal Belal, who did not finish eventually, Japanese Yukihiro Kitaoka, who won the silver, and Tomoyoki Sato, Mubarak and Bahrain's Khalid Yasin.
Hassan was in some trouble early on but caught up soon and once he latched on to the Korean, he looked ready to challenge him right till the end. But, that did not happen.
“Water was the biggest problem for me in today's race,” Hassan said later. “I missed a number of water points, so in the end I had no power to run. For the sake of water I failed to keep up with the leading runner. I am only used to the normal water (natural mineral water). So it took me some extra time to find suitable water,” the Qatari (formerly Richard Yatich) of Kenyan origin said.
The Korean kept up a steady pace throughout, and once he broke free he could cruise through since there was no serious challenge behind him. He had an altercation with Hassan midway through the event, the Qatari slapping his shoulder after he accidentally stepped on the latter's ankle.
“My pace was different from his which was why I accidentally stepped on the back of his ankle. But he overreacted and slapped me on the back of my shoulder which really hurt,” said Ji Young-Jun.
Hassan could not even respond when Japanese Kitaoka ran past him close to the finish. He looked so drained out that at the finish he was a bit wobbly. The Japanese clocked 2:12:46 and Hassan was happy to get the bronze in 2:12:53.
Indian Ram Singh Yadav came 15th, in 2:39:23, more than 28 minutes behind the winner. He had clocked 2:21:24 while finishing eighth in the Commonwealth Games. Why he was persisted with in these Games too within a month's time defies logic.
It was a comfortable one-two for China, expectedly so considering the small field, as Zhou was followed home by Zhu Xiaolin in the women's run. The two Chinese had run together for much of the time before Zhou Chunxiu pulled away with about seven kilometres to go.
It was China's 13th gold medal from athletics, not really up to its normal standards, but good enough all the same. India and Bahrain had five golds each, though India moved into the second position because of its two silvers. India also had four bronze medals.
Keywords: Asian Games 2010