INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - South Korean sharpshooters snatched two early golds to put the hosts top of the Asian Games medals table on Sunday, but the highlight of the second day’s action will come later in the pool when China’s Sun Yang takes on local hero Park Tae-hwan in the 200 meters freestyle final.
Sun, the 2012 Olympic champion in the 400 and 1,500 freestyle, qualified fastest while Park was just fourth quickest, though neither swimmer seemed to be pushing too hard in their heats.
Sun snatched Park’s 400 crown at the 2012 London Olympics and the rivals are set to engage in a series of freestyle duels over the six-day swimming competition.
There are five other gold medals to be won on Sunday at the Aquatics Centre in Incheon, which is named after Park, including the men’s 200 butterfly where Japan’s Daiya Seto is in a league of his own.
A day after North Korea’s Om Yun Chol lifted more than three times his own bodyweight to break the world clean and jerk record, his compatriot and fellow Olympic champion Kim Un Guk will also go for gold in the 62kg category.
South Korea’s Olympic shooting champion Jin Jong-oh broke a world record before coming into the Games but has not been at his best in Incheon, managing just a bronze in the men’s 10m air pistol event.
His disappointment was tempered somewhat by a gold medal in the discipline’s team event and he paid tribute to 17-year-old compatriot Kim Cheong-yong, who won the individual gold.
“I felt ashamed of myself that I shot 7s,” he said. “But today we got the new hero so let us celebrate his win.”
The two golds gave South Korea seven for the Asiad, lifting them one clear of powerhouse China, who have finished top of the medals table at the last eight Games.
The Chinese men’s trap team won their only gold of the day so far, while Kuwait won silver - their only medal of the Games.
The medal would have pleased Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the head of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), who told reporters that countries from Oceania would be allowed to compete at the next Asian Indoor Games.
The move could open the door for sporting powerhouses such as Australia to integrate more into Asia.
Sheikh Ahmad said the OCA was open to all ideas but was taking things “step by step”.
The Sheikh also told reporters that he was confident Jakarta would be ready to host the next Asian Games in 2018, but said the vast archipelago would need help.
“A lot of the facilities are already in place. So they will only have to renew some of them,” he added. “We will be doing our duty double than any time before because there’s only four years so we have to be active.”
Hanoi was awarded the Games in 2012 ahead of the Indonesian city of Surabaya but Vietnam pulled out this year, citing the effects of global recession and fears the state would be unable to foot the bill for facilities and venues.
Sheikh Ahmad expected there would be a five-year gap until the following Games in 2023.
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty