China win dramatic basketball gold as medalist fails doping test

By AFP   October 5, 2023 | 07:02 pm PT
China win dramatic basketball gold as medalist fails doping test
North Korea's giant Pak Ji Na tries to block South Korea's Lee Kyung-eun. Photo by AFP/Philip Fong
China's women's basketball team staved off a spirited fightback from Japan to retain their Asian Games title on Thursday, as a silver medalist became the latest athlete to fail a doping test.

The Chinese men crashed out in the semi-finals with a last-gasp defeat to the Philippines 24 hours earlier, breaking the hearts of the basketball-obsessed home nation.

But the women made up for it, taking an early lead and then just about keeping the Olympic runners-up at bay for a thrilling 74-72 win at a pulsating Hangzhou Olympic Center Gymnasium.

Wang Siyu sank the game-winning basket with seconds remaining, sparking wild celebrations among the flag-waving crowd.

China coach Zheng Wei warned her team they will have to be better at next summer's Paris Olympics.

"We still have a lot of room for improvement and many problems to solve," she said.

China fielded 2.03 m Han Xu and 2.06 m in Li Yueru, giving them a huge height advantage over their opponents.

Han, who has been compared to eight-time NBA All-Star Yao Ming, scored 10 points while Li bagged 13. Both were outscored by team-mate Li Meng, with 17.

Japan, looking to win Asian Games gold for the first time since 1998, chipped away at China's lead until they drew level with just under three minutes remaining.

A huge three-pointer from Li Yuan eased China back in front before Wang settled it with a lay-up on the final attack.

In the battle for bronze, South Korea cut neighbors North Korea and their giant center Pak Ji Na down to size to win 93-63.

Dream fulfilled

China added to their medal haul - now standing at 179 golds - early in the day when He Jie fulfilled a dream by winning the men's marathon in 2 hours 13 minutes and 2 seconds.

"I told my coach that I have a dream and I will do it no matter what it takes," said the 24-year-old He.

Bahrain's Kenyan-born Eunice Chumba was in a class of her own in the women's event, claiming victory by nearly two minutes in 2 hours 26 minutes and 14 seconds.

In cycling, young Kazakh rider Yevgeniy Fedorov was gifted gold by decorated teammate Alexey Lutsenko as they crossed the line nearly six minutes ahead of the rest in the men's road race.

The pair, who ride professionally for Astana Qazaqstan, timed their race to perfection on the challenging 207.7-km course through the mountains.

After sitting in the chasing peloton, defending champion Lutsenko took control with 80km left and the duo stayed together as they pulled clear.

They were seen chatting as they cruised to the finish, with Lutsenko waving his teammate over the line first in 4:25.29.

"In the end, we decided that I could win a gold medal because Alexey had already won a gold medal in this race at the 2018 Asian Games," said the 23-year-old Fedorov.

Hasanboy Dusmatov gave a boxing masterclass to win flyweight (51kg) gold and complete his collection of major titles on a memorable night in the ring for Uzbekistan.

Olympic and world superheavyweight (+92kg) champion Bakhodir Jalolov also won his first Games gold.

North Korea claimed their sixth weightlifting gold with Song Kuk Hyang winning the women's 76kg category.

Medalist fails doping test

Turkmenistan's Tejen Tejenov became the first medalist at the Games to fail a doping test, with a Saudi runner later becoming the sixth athlete in total.

Chinas He Jie wins the marathon. Photo by AFP/Song Yanhua

China's He Jie wins the marathon at Asian Games in Hangzhou. Photo by AFP/Song Yanhua

The 30-year-old Tejenov, who came second in the heavyweight 90kg category of kurash, an ancient form of wrestling, tested positive for anabolic steroids, the International Testing Agency said.

He is now in danger of being stripped of his medal.

"He has the right to request the analysis of the B-sample," the ITA, which handles some areas of doping control at the Games, said.

Saudi middle-distance runner Wesam Nasser Al-Farsi also failed a doping test, the ITA said, for the prohibited substance darbepoetin, which is usually used to treat severe anemia.

All six who failed tests have been suspended.

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