Asian Games 2018

Asian Games: Sun Yang’s five-gold dream shattered by Japan in men’s relay

The China superstar powers to victory in the men’s 800m freestyle but falls short in swimming the anchor leg of the 4x200m freestyle final

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 August, 2018, 11:28pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2018, 12:42am

Japan destroyed Chinese swimming star Sun Yang’s hopes of five gold medals at the Asian Games when they stunned the three-time Olympic champion and his team in the men’s 4x200 metres men’s freestyle relay final.

Sun turned in turned in another power-packed performance to claim his second gold medal of the Games at the Jakarta Aquatic Centre on Monday when he won the men’s 800 metres final earlier in the evening.

And even when he jumped two lengths behind Japan’s Katsuhiro Matsumoto in the anchor leg of the relay later on, it looked only a matter of time over the next four lengths that the two-giant would haul in his rival.

The fluid strokes that made it look as if he was on a practice run in the 800m got more desperate as they turned for home in the relay and while Sun was gaining, Matsumoto did just enough to hold him off and give himself, Naito Ehara, Reo Sakata and Kosuke Hagino victory in a Games record of 7:05.17.

China’s Ji Xinjie, Shang Keyuan Wang Shun and Sun clocked 7:05.45 and third-placed Singapore finished third in 7:14.15, with Olympic butterfly champion Joseph Schooling swimming a brilliant second leg to bring his team into the medals stakes.

The 26-year-old Sun has two more events at the Asian Games, having won the men’s 200m freestyle and 800m freestyle but his hopes of a five-gold haul disappeared.

Still, if he wins his next two races, he will take his career Asian Games haul to nine. Sun admitted that he was saving himself in the 800m final for the relay.

“Originally, I wasn’t part of the relay team. It was a management’s decision. The women’s team is a bit weak so that’s why the men’s team has to come out. I did some treatment [on my back] until 1am in the morning. I was exhausted,” said Sun.

He added: “I was saving some energy for tonight’s relay. The plan was to pick up the pace over the last 200 metres and it went well. That will give me confidence for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

“If I was under my own pacing and increased my speed in the opening, maybe we could have gotten a better result.”

Words spoken too soon as Japan claim a share of the honours in the pool with four of the seven gold medals on offer.

Rikako Ikee added two golds to the women’s 4x100m relay she won on Sunday by claiming victory in the 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle.

Kanako Watanabe swam a brilliant final length to win the women’s 200m breaststroke. China won gold through Sun in the 800m free, Xu Jiayu in the men’s 50m backstroke and Wang Shun in the men’s 200m individual medley.

Hong Kong picked up two bronze medals in fencing yesteray. In the men’s individual sabre semi-finals, Law Ho-tin lost to Gu Bongil, of South Korea, 15-4.

And in the women’s individual foil semi-finals, Liu Yan-wai lost to China’s Fu Yiting 15-10 to pick up another bronze for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Jamie Yeung Zhen-mei was seventh in the 200m breaststroke in 2:29.81, with Watanabe winning in 2:23.05 ahead of China’s Yu Jinhao in 2:23.31 while REona Aoki, who briefly held the lead down the stretch, touches in 2:23.33.

Kenneth To King-him was fifth in the men’s 200m IM in a time of 2:01.76 and Chan Kin-lok was eighth in the women’s 50m buttefly.

Camille Cheng Lily Mei was fifth in the women’s 100m freeestyle and the men were disqualified from the 4x200m relay.

In rowing, Hong Kong’s Chiu Hin-chun (men’s lightweight single sculls) and the lightweight men’s eight reached there repechage after some impressive performances in Palembang.

“It was less windy today so we pushed hard,” said coach Chris Perry. “Chiu had a very close fight with Korea – the reigning Asian Champion and just lost out in the sprint to the line.

“He should go through the repechage easily however and should be in contention for a medal come the finals day.

“The lightweight men’s eight were second in their heat and will also need to go through the repechage. General pacing was good but we will need a much faster start. Probably four eights, including HK, in the event contesting the three medals.”