The combined Koreas march into Gelora Bung Karno Stadium under the "unification" flag during the opening ceremony for the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Combined Koreas crew wins historic medal at Asian Games

August 25, 2018 - 11:23 am

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Two countries. One significant medal.

A combined Koreas crew earned a historic bronze medal at the Asian Games on Saturday by finishing third in the women's 200-meter dragon boat final behind China and games host Indonesia.

It was the first time a combined team from North Korea and South Korea has won a medal at a major multi-sport international event.

And it was awarded to Korea — the name given to the combined teams the countries entered in rowing, canoeing and women's basketball — and not to North or South Korea.

A group of athletes from North Korea and South Korea paraded into the opening ceremony last weekend behind the "unification" flag which features the outline of the peninsula in blue on a white background.

It took another seven days for any of the combined teams to get on the medals podium, by which time South Korea had 23 gold medals to sit in third spot and North Korea had nine gold medals and was in sixth position overall.

The joint crew featured seven South Koreans and five North Koreans and finished in 56.851 seconds at the Jakabaring Rowing and Canoeing Regatta Course in the co-host city of Palembang.

The combined Koreas basketball team is a gold-medal chance and has progressed to the quarterfinals of the women's tournament.

Iran's Sohrab Moradi was expected to win the gold medal in the 94-kilogram weightlifting class, and he iced it by breaking a 19-year-old world record in the snatch. He completed his set of world marks in the division when he lifted 189 kilograms in the snatch to break Akakios Kakiasvilis' record of 188.

He went on to set a games record with a total of 410.

The track and field program opened with the first four titles going to Hiroto Inoue of Japan in a steamy early morning marathon, to India's Tajinderpal Toor in a games record 20.75 meters for the shot put, to Daria Maslova of Kyrgyzstan in the women's 10,000 and to China's Luo Na, who beat world championship silver medalist Wang Zheng to win the women's hammer throw at 71.42 meters.

Much of the focus in Indonesia was on world junior champion Lalu Zohri, from the earthquake-ravaged island of Lombok, who won his 100-meter heat in 10.27 seconds. Su Bingtian, who set the Asian record of 9.91 in June, won the next heat also in 10.27.

Yang Chun-han of Taiwan had the fastest qualifying time in 10.13.

Defending women's champion Wei Yongli had the fastest qualifying time in 11.32, and India's Dutee Chand won her heat in 11.38.

The marathon started at 6 a.m. and it finished in a sprint, with Inoue hanging on for gold after a late tangle with Bahrain's Elhassan Elabbassi. Both were credited with the same time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 22 seconds.

They entered the main stadium together and were shoulder-to-shoulder coming around the last curve of the track. Elabbassi attempted to surge inside Inoue on the left in the inside lane with about 50 meters to go but collided with his Japanese rival and lost his balance.

"It was a tough race. I knew I'd win in the home stretch so I went all out," Inoue said. "This is a big confidence boost for me. I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this alone."

It was Japan's first gold in the Asian Games men's marathon in 32 years, and comes as the country prepares to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Veteran tour professional Denis Istomin, who has reached the last 16 at the Australian and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon, won the tennis singles gold medal with a 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2) victory over Wu Yibing.

After 216 events, China led the medals standings with 72 gold and 153 overall. Japan was next with 34 gold and 109 in total, and South Korea had 25 gold medals and 84 overall.

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