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PH hoops gold to Chopra: 5 top Asiad performances

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Hangzhou—­The Asian Games in Hangzhou witnessed some world-class performances over two weeks of action in 40 sports.

AFP Sport picks out five who excelled:

Shanti Pereira – athletics

The 27-year-old sprinter took a leap of faith earlier this year and was rewarded in Hangzhou with 200m gold.

She gave up her job as a copywriter to become a full-time runner and it paid off as she won Singapore’s first athletics Asian Games gold in 49 years.

“When I had the chance I jumped right in,” said Pereira, who also took home 100m silver.

“What a season. It’s been so crazy, it means a lot to me. I can’t really describe this.”

No one was prouder than her parents watching from the stands as Pereira draped herself in the Singapore flag and burst into tears.

“I just got emotional,” said dad Clarence. “I’m still in a daze.”

North Korea – weightlifting

North Korea’s weightlifters shocked their rivals after re-emerging from four years of Covid isolation to top the competition with some record-breaking performances.

They started with a bang on the opening day of weightlifting as Ri Song Gum broke two world records in the women’s 49kg.

Kang Hyong Yong, a little-known 24-year-old, then set a hat-trick of world records on her way to gold in the women’s 55kg class.

North Korea’s lifters won six golds, five silvers and two bronzes.

The haul prompted team manager Jang Song Nam to declare: “We are world leaders now. We wanted to show our strength and we did it.”

They won’t be able to flex their muscles next year at the Paris Olympics—they are not eligible after missing qualifying events.

The Philippines celebrates its semifinal win over China.

Zhang Yufei – swimming

Untouchable Chinese butterfly specialist Zhang Yufei reinforced her status as a major threat at the Paris Olympics with a dominant showing in the Hangzhou pool and winning the Games MVP award.

The Olympic and world champion won six gold medals, more than anyone else, winning the 50m, 100m and 200m fly, 50m freestyle and helping China surge to two relay titles.

All her times were highly competitive and the 25-year-old said it gave her confidence leading into Paris.

“I hope to present a stable, improved version of myself at every race and that will help me be more confident in myself as I go towards Paris,” she said.

Neeraj Chopra – javelin

The world and Olympic champion from India conjured up a mammoth throw to win gold in style at the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium.

Under pressure after teammate Kishore Kumar Jena produced a huge personal best of 87.54m, Chopra responded with a season’s best 88.88m — longer than the 88.17m that won him the world title at Budapest in August.

“It feels great when we push each other to go farther and farther,” Chopra said of competing against his compatriot.

Kumar Jena was content to finish behind his “idol”. “Keep watching, you will see more of us in the future too,” he warned.

Philippines – basketball

A first Asian Games basketball gold for 61 years sparked an outpouring of joy across the hoops-mad nation after the “Gilas” beat Jordan 70-60.

The nation of 110 million people was glued to television or phone screens to watch the Gilas—meaning panache—end more than half a century of hurt.

“It feels great, man,” said Ivory Coast-born Angelo Kouame.

“It means a lot after all these years, and that’s bigger than all of us.”

The Philippines won Asiad gold four times in a row from 1951 to 1962 but had made just one final since, in 1990, when they went down to China. AFP

 

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