Asian Games: South Korean men ride to cycling gold
There were jubilant scenes in the Incheon velodrome Saturday as South Korea beat China to gold in the Asian Games men`s cycling team sprint.
Incheon: There were jubilant scenes in the Incheon velodrome Saturday as South Korea beat China to gold in the Asian Games men`s cycling team sprint.
The three-strong Korean team -- Son Je-Yong, Im Chae-Bin and Kang Dong-Jin -- qualified fastest but China rode off to an early lead, pushing the pace in the first lap.
As the sun went down over the outdoor track, the crowd roared the home team on and South Korea rose to the challenge.
Final rider Im, 22, went all out to take the race in 59.61 seconds, a third of a second ahead of the Chinese trio of Xu Chao, Hu Ke and Bao Saofei on 59.96.
"The team sprint members have trained without rest, including weekends without rest, and that`s why we got gold," said Im, who is just 16 days away from finishing his compulsory military service.
A gold at the Asian Games exempts him from returning to the army, but he wants to see it through.
"I`ll go back and complete it. I`ve been competing as an athlete while doing my military service, so it`s not a problem for me," he told reporters.
Son said the vocal supporters who cheered the team had made a huge difference.
"This is the first time that I`ve ridden a big race in front of a home crowd -- the fans made me perform much better."
Asked how they would celebrate, exhausted Son said he just wanted to "go home and rest".
China were defending their Asian Games title after winning in Guangzhou in 2010 with different riders.The women`s team sprint was also a South Korea-China head-to-head, but the Chinese dominated.
Gong Jinjie and Zhong Tianshi beat their Korean counterparts -- Lee Hye-Jin and Kim Wong-Yeong -- by more than a second in a convincing performance. Sprint ace Zhong led the charge to the line to win in 43.774 seconds against Korea`s 44.876.
Zhong, 23, already has a silver under her belt from the team sprint at this year`s World Championships while veteran Gong, 27, took silver in the event at the London Olympics where she and Guo Shuang broke the world record.
Zhong will also line up for the women`s keirin Sunday where she is among the favourites to challenge Sarah Lee Wai-sze of Hong Kong, who is tipped for gold.
"We fell short by just a little bit," said Korea`s Lee. "We haven`t ridden together for very long so we have to get to know each other`s pace.
"The Chinese riders are very good and skilled so I think the only answer for us is to practise and train more."
The Japanese men beat Iran for bronze in the men`s team sprint while Taiwan took bronze in the women`s team sprint, edging out Japan.
China and Hong Kong topped the table in the qualifier for the men`s team pursuit -- the first round and final in that event takes place Sunday.