Chinese teenage skater, Nepali cricketers break records

Published September 28, 2023
China’s Zhang Yufei competes during the women’s 100m butterfly final of the Asian Games at the Aquatic Sports Arena on Wednesday.—Reuters
China’s Zhang Yufei competes during the women’s 100m butterfly final of the Asian Games at the Aquatic Sports Arena on Wednesday.—Reuters

HANGZHOU: China’s teenage skateboarders, Japan’s cyc­lists and a Thai Esports player bagged golds on day four of the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Wednesday as Nepal smashed multiple records in the cricket.

At the skate park, 13-year-old Cui Chenxi became China’s youngest Asian Games gold medallist when she won the women’s street event.

With an eye-catching performance featuring several ‘Ollies’ and a huge move off a high rail, Cui took gold ahead of compatriot Zeng Wenhui, 18, with Japanese 16-year-old Miyu Ito taking bronze. “I did quite well today,” Cui said modestly.

Cui, who hails from China’s eastern Shandong province, only took up skateboarding in 2020 when China’s Covid restrictions meant she could not practice rollerblading, which she began as a three-year-old.

The street competition involves skaters performing daring tricks on a course that has features that resemble an urban environment including rails and gaps.

In bright, warm and humid conditions, which felt even hotter because of the skate park’s innate lack of greenery, scores of dragonflies shared air time with the competitors as they performed their tricks.

The skaters did two ‘runs’ followed by five individual ‘tricks’. Each athlete’s highest scoring run and two highest scoring tricks were then added together to reach a final score.

Margielyn Didal, who won gold for the Philippines at the 2018 Asian Games, is still only 24 yet she seemed like a veteran with all her competitors in the final 18 or under.

“I don’t feel old because I’m also a bit childish, I just want to mess around,” she said, after an injury in the final meant she finished last of the eight skaters.

In the men’s final, another 13-year-old and hot favourite for the title, Ginu Onodera, was in the lead after the “run” section. But the Japanese failed to land a single of his “tricks” and so dropped down to seventh.

China’s Zhang Jie, 16, won the gold, making that three golds out of a possible four for the host nation at the skate park. “I felt very excited and happy to win the gold medal,” Zhang said. “I never saw it coming.”

In hazy morning sunshine, rampant Nepal rewrote the T20 international record books against bewildered part-timers Mongolia in a 273-run thumping in men’s cricket.

Nepal bludgeoned 314-3 in their 20 overs, beating the previous highest T20 men’s international innings of 278-3 by Afghanistan against Ireland in 2019.

Teenager Kushal Malla, batting number three, spearheaded the onslaught by crashing the fastest T20 international century, off 34 balls.

Among the other records they racked up, Dipendra Singh Airee hit a scarcely believable eight sixes in an unbeaten 52 off 10 balls.

The powerful 23-year-old raced to his fifty off nine balls, another T20 world record and one that should stand in perpetuity because it is mathematically impossible to reach the landmark any quicker.

Nepal’s 26 sixes in the innings was also the best ever.

Mongolia, whose women’s team were bowled out for just 15 at the Asian Games last week, were dismissed for only 41 in 13.1 overs.

Much sterner tests await for Nepal, with India and Pakistan both in the draw.

In the velodrome, Japan were dominant winning all three golds on offer on day four, in the women’s keirin and the men’s and women’s team pursuit.

“We were actually already celebrating during the last three or four laps,” said Naoki Kojima, from the men’s pursuit team.

But China’s medal tally continued to far exceed all of the others. On Wednesday the hosts won golds across the board including in gymnastics, sailing, chess, beach volleyball, chess, taekwondo, shooting and Wushu.

In the pool, China’s ‘butterfly queen’ Zhang Yufei picked up two more golds to add to her mounting collection.

The 25-year-old Zhang blasted the fastest time of the year to easily win the 100m butterfly gold, then helped China to come within a whisker of shattering the 4x100m mixed medley relay world record.

Zhang, who has already claimed the 200m fly crown in Hangzhou to go with her Olympic gold, surged to the wall in a new Games-record 55.86sec. That beat the 56.12 that earned her the world title in July.

Earlier, Yu Yuting, 18, just held on for victory over Japan’s Ageha Tanigawa, 20, in the women’s 400m medley.

Chinese table tennis legend Ma Long, 34, said he had almost certainly made his last Asian Games appearance after helping the hosts to men’s team gold.

Asked about the prospect of defending his Olympic title next year, Ma said: “Paris is still too early to say for me.”

While China’s men’s football team progressed to the quarter-finals, Thailand won the Asian Games’ first gold medal for the online version of the beautiful game.

In an all-Thai final Teedech Songsaisakul beat his compatriot and close friend Phatanasak Varanan 2-0 to take the gold in the online football game EA Sports FC Online, with South Korea’s Kwak Junhyouk picking up bronze.

Kuwait’s 60-year-old Abdul­lah Alrashidi impressed on the shooting range with a world record-equalling performance in the men’s skeet to get his cou­ntry’s first gold of the Games.

In the event where the shotgun wielding athletes attempt to shoot and break clay targets fired into the air at high speeds and varying angles, Alrashidi held off a strong challenge from India’s Anant Jeet Singh Naruka, 25, to take the win, with Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiya, 52, finishing third.

“Today I only missed one target from 110 targets,” the veteran of seven Olympics, which have included two bronze medals, said. “This happens when you play every day, you exercise, go swimming, and eat well. You keep your body strong. I don’t look at the telephone or Twitter, because this is not good for your eyes. I look after my body and my health, and I go to sleep early and wake up early.”

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2023



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