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Asian nations sitting pretty atop medal table

Latest update : 2008-08-17

With Asian nations taking all medals in the pistol event, the Chinese triumphant in diving and gymnastics, and North Korea's Pak Hyon-Suk heroic in weightlifting, Asian nations maintained an iron grip on the medal standings.

The two Koreas, Japan, and China kept the gold medal tally ticking over for Asian nations Tuesday as players from the region took a steely grip on the badminton tournament.

A rare all-Asian podium was achieved in the men's 50 metre Pistol final with South Korea's Jin Jong-Oh surviving a last-minute scare to win ahead of North Korea's Kim Jong-Su and China's Tan Zongliang.

Another clean sweep nearly happened in the men's team gymnastics event, with the mighty China winning and Japan collecting silver, ahead of the United States in third

In the pool, China's Chen Ruolin and Wang Xin won the women's synchronised 10m platform diving gold medal, while Japan's Ayumi Tanimoto lifted the women's 63kg judo crown.

And North Korea's Pak Hyon-Suk overcame two missed attempts to win the women's 63kg weightlifting gold on her final lift, attributing her victory to a desire to please the Stalinist state's "Dear Leader" -- Kim Jong-Il.

So far China has 11 golds, South Korea five and Japan three. Thailand, India and North Korea have one gold each while Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan have also made their mark.

But there was a major setback for Japan when defending marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi pulled out the Games after failing to recover from injury.

South Korean teenage sensation Park Tae-Hwan followed up his 400m freestyle gold medal with silver behind world record breaking Michael Phelps in the 200m free.

His time of 1:44.85, though fast, was almost two seconds adrift of the amazing American.

"Some people are surprised that Asian swimmers have won gold and silver at this Olympics," said Park.

"But at this Games I have won gold and silver and we've had Zhang Lin (China) win silver, so we have shown the world that we can compete. We got got medals and we're both Asian."

Elsewhere, Japan's Reiko Nakamura came sixth in the 100m backstroke final, behind winner Natalie Coughlin but ahead of French diva Laure Manaudou. Japan's Hanae Ito came last.

In the women's 100m breaststroke final, won by Australia's Leisel Jones, China's Sun Ye was seventh and Japan's Asami Kitagawa eighth.

The men's pistol-shooting final produced a thrilling finish with Jin ending just 0.2 points ahead of his North Korean rival.

"I don't know what happened, but when I looked back and saw a few smiling faces, I realised I had done it," he said.

"I went in with a lot of confidence because I had come second in Athens, but I still had to shoot my best. It was a close call, but at least it went in my favour."

Of the seven shooting golds decided so far, China, India, and South Korea have won three, with Indian media Tuesday feting the country's first solo gold medallist, Abhinav Bindra.

"No longer will a gold medal surprise us. Never again will we plead with the constellations to allow luck to go our way," the Indian Express said in a front-page story.

India, winners of eight field hockey golds, had never won an individual Olympic title before Bindra stood atop the podium.

On the badminton courts, Malaysia's world number two Lee Chong Wei cruised into the quarter-finals.

The second seed, gunning for his country's first ever Olympic gold in any sport, was never troubled against Lithuania's Kestutis Navickas.

Lee is readying himself for a showdown against sixth seed Sony Dwi Kuncoro, the bronze medallist in Athens and Indonesia's last remaining hope in the men's singles after defending champion Taufik Hidayat crashed out on Monday.

"Maybe each match I can get better and better," said Lee

China are gunning for a clean sweep of the five golds on offer, after winning three in Athens, and, boasting world number one Lin Dan, are strong favourites in the men's singles.

Date created : 2008-08-12