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Kazakhstan clinches Asiada’s top medal count
Latest day of Asian Winter Games sees more gold for hosts
By Vsevolod Khvan
ASTANA/ALMATY – Several more Kazakhstani gold medal wins February 4, made it clear to the Japanese, Chinese and South Korean teams that they had no hope of surpassing Kazakhstan in the Asian Winter Games medal count.
Kazakhstani fans enjoyed a long-awaited spectacle Friday, when their country's leading biathlete, Yelena Khrustaleva, won the women's 15km individual race. Even though she missed two of four targets, she defeated Japan's Fuyuko Suzuki by 14 seconds. Bronze went to Kazakhstan's Marina Lebedeva, who trailed Suzuki by five seconds.
"Everybody was expecting me to win this gold medal," Khrustaleva said. "I was completely set on winning. I didn't give up even when I missed. I'm very happy and hope to be ready for the relay, which is already tomorrow."
In the men’s 20km race, Kazakhstan's Aleksandr Cherviakov, who already has two Asian Games gold medals, disappointed the cheering fans. He missed seven times and finished seventh. Junji Nagai (Japan), who already had a bronze and a silver medal, won the gold.
"I promised that I'd win gold in these Asian Games," Nagai said afterward. He shared the medal podium with two Chinese – Ren Long and Li Zhonghai.
"Maybe I'm a little disappointed," Ren said, "I hit 19 of 20 targets and missed only the last one. … I still have a chance to win gold in this Asiada."
Some athletes, like ski orienteers, took the day off. Men's bandy teams (hockey with a ball instead of a puck) did not. Kazakhstan trounced Mongolia 17-0.
At the Chimbulak resort, alpine skiers finished their event after Thursday's bad weather forced a postponement. Kazakhstan's Lyudmila Fedotova won gold in women's super combined slalom, while Jeong Sora (South Korea) and Xeniya Stroilova (Kazakhstan) took silver and bronze, respectively.
In the men's super combined slalom, South Korea nailed down gold and bronze (Jung Donghyun and Kim Woosung), while Kazakhstan's Igor Zakurdayev won silver.
Speed skaters set two continental records in the 1,500m races – Kazakhstan's Denis Kuzin finished in 1:47.37and China's Wang Fei at 1:58.37.
Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten led all competitors in the men's figure skating short programme with 76.22 points, ahead of Japan's Machida Tatsuki (71.58 points).
The day ended with Kazakhstan owning 56 medals (23 gold, 18 silver, 15 bronze). South Korea is second in gold medals with 11 (30 overall – 9 silver, 10 bronze) and Japan third with 9 (39 overall – 18 silver, 12 bronze). China, Iran and Mongolia are the only other teams to win medals so far.