Asian Games: Golf and equestrian doubles key Japan’s 6-gold day

Individual and team sweeps in equestrian eventing and men’s golf gave Japan a six-gold day at the Asian Games on Sunday, helped along by a late win for defending champion Keisuke Ushiro in the men’s decathlon.

Ushiro ran an incredible 1,500-meter race to win the gold, Japan’s first in track and field at the 2018 Games. He started the final phase of the event trailing Thailand’s Suttisak Singkhon but scored 655 points to establish his 69-point winning margin.

Ryota Yamagata entered the men’s 100-meter final as the fastest qualifier, but when it came to the final he was outgunned by China’s Su Bingtian and Tosin Ogunode, the latter crossing in 10.00 seconds, exactly the same time as the Japanese, but taking silver in a photo finish.

«After the end of the heat yesterday, I was thinking that my issue was with the start, so focused on changing that today, and as a result, I was able to improve my time,» said Yamagata.

Japan’s other athletics medal, a silver, came in the early morning when Keiko Nogami ran a 2-hour, 36-minute, 27-second women’s marathon.

Yoshiaki Oiwa and his mount led the way to equestrian eventing gold, winning the individual event by 3.7 points over India’s Fouaad Mirza.

Oiwa’s performance, along with the cumulative scores of Ryuzo Kitajima, Takayuki Yumira and Kenta Hiranaga — who finished the individual event in fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively — gave Japan a huge 38.9-point win in the team event.

«As a competitor, you do what you can,» said Oiwa. «We could have won gold without any help from me. Putting the two gold medals together, they feel really heavy.»

«Now, as I look toward the Tokyo Olympics, I want to prepare so I’ll be a medal contender, and give people who love equestrian something worth watching.»

Keita Nakajima completed a flag-to-flag win in the men’s golf, leading all four days to finish with a 72-hole score of 11-under, one shot ahead of his nearest challenger, Oh Seung Taek from South Korea.

«This was made possible through the good graces of my older teammates,» Nakajima said. «Compared to yesterday, I started play composed without any nerves. I was able to play my round without making any big mistakes.»

Takumi Kanaya finished tied for fourth at 7-under, helping Japan get to 28-under to win the team event, seven shots ahead of China.

Japan’s other gold on Sunday came from veteran sports climbing campaigner Akiyo Noguchi. After an up and down qualifying, Noguchi scraped gold ahead of two South Koreans, putting herself in good stead ahead of the introduction of the sport at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

«I didn’t do well in the qualifiers, and I started in the bottom of the field after the first discipline, so I was really stretched,» Noguchi said. «I struggled both mentally and physically and it was a really tight competition. So I’m really glad I won today.»

Hot gold medal favorite Tomoa Narasaki could not shake a slow start and was left with bronze in the men’s combined sport climbing event, Kokoro Fujii won silver.

After battling through a quarterfinal and semifinal on Sunday, Japan’s women’s 3×3 basketball team had its run halted by a 21-10 loss to China in the final, giving them silver.

Japanese badminton players saw mixed fortunes.

Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi advanced to the women’s doubles final by beating Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia 2-0, but in the other semifinal, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota were knocked out by Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan 2-0.

The winners will meet in the final on Monday.

Japan’s singles struggles continued on Sunday, with 2017 singles world champion and Rio bronze medalist Nozomi Okuhara losing to world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan 2-0 in their quarterfinal.

However, in a high-level meeting between the world Nos. 2 and 5, Akane Yamaguchi from Japan beat China’s Chen Yufei 2-0.

Japan’s remaining player in the men’s singles, Kenta Nishimoto, moved on to the semifinal after beating Son Wan Ho of South Korea in straight games.

Miki Ishii and Megumi Murakami won their beach volleyball semifinal 2-0 over Tatyana Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova of Kazakhstan and will play for gold against Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi of China on Monday.

Nine separate goal-scorers gave Japan a 13-0 win over Hong Kong in men’s hockey, and with South Korea’s loss late to India, a semifinal spot is up for grabs. The game Tuesday between Japan and the Koreans will decide who joins Pool A leaders India in the final four.

All — Kyodo News+

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