Games-Swimming-China flex muscles at Asian Games

Reuters

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Bronze medalist Nguyen Thi Anh Vien of Vietnam poses on the podium at the women's 400m individual medley final award ceremony at the Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Center during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 23, 2014. Photo credit: Reuters Bronze medalist Nguyen Thi Anh Vien of Vietnam poses on the podium at the women's 400m individual medley final award ceremony at the Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Center during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 23, 2014. Photo credit: Reuters
China's swimmers provided another imposing demonstration of their seemingly bottomless depth of talent by scooping up six gold medals in the pool at the Asian Games on Tuesday.
Led by London Olympic champions Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen, the Chinese transformed the Munhak Aquatics Centre into their own private pool party, winning all but one of the seven titles decided on the third night of swimming finals.
Sun, who took a day off after being beaten by Kosuke Hagino in the 200 meters freestyle on Sunday, was better suited by the longer distance and avenged his loss to the rising Japanese star when he successfully defended his 400m freestyle title.
Ye, whose eye-popping performances at the London Olympics led to thinly-veiled accusations from other nations about the source of her success, turned the women's 400 individual medley into a virtual time-trial.
She steamed clear of the field from the start and was never challenged as she made an audacious attempt to break her own world record.
China also provided a sneak preview of their next wave of potential Olympic champions when teenage sensation Shen Duo picked up her third gold medal of the Games while Chen Xinyi, Fu Yuanhui and Ning Zetao all bagged their first.
But the biggest surprise came from Kazakhstan teenager Dmitry Balandin, the only swimmer to break China's monopoly of the golds on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old slashed nearly six seconds off his best time to win the men's 200m breaststroke gold and charge up the world rankings.
He stopped the clock in two minutes 07.67 seconds to take the gold ahead of Japan's Kazuki Kohinata and Yashuhiro Koseki.
Japan had swept the first six men's events on the opening two days of swimming but had to settle for three silvers and two bronzes on Tuesday.
Ning won the men's 50m freestyle sprint for China in 21.95, getting his hand on the wall just ahead of the Japanese pair of Shinri Shioura and Kenta Ito.
 Hagino, who has already won three golds and a bronze in Incheon, collected his fifth medal of the meet when he finished runner-up to Sun.
The 20-year-old Japanese university student set off at a cracking pace and led for the first 100m but was soon overhauled by Sun and could not catch the towering Chinese.
"I was doing well at the 200-300m mark, but during the last 100m, I realized I could not catch Sun at that speed," said Hagino, who still has at least two events to go.
"But it was a great experience. It was really fun to compete with strong athletes on this stage. It was a very helpful experience."
South Korea's Park Tae-hwan finished third to claim his third bronze medal in his homeland after winning three golds at each of the last two Asian Games.
Ye, who has failed to match up to her London performances, was under world record pace for the first 250m of the women's 400m individual medley.
She weakened over the concluding freestyle leg and stopped the clock at 4:32.97, more than five seconds ahead of Japan's Sakiko Shimizu and Vietnam's 17-year-old Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, who won the gold at the recent Youth Olympics.
"After winning the London Olympics, I felt lots of pressure. I know the expectation of my supporters was high," said Ye.
"So I was distracted in my races and could not do well (even though) I performed really well in training."
Shen, who won six gold medals at the Youth Olympics, picked up her third Asian Games gold in the women's 4x200m while 16-year-old Chen won the women's 100m butterfly in a slick 56.61 and Fu won the women's 50m backstroke in 27.66.

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