Qin Haiyang, Siobhan Haughey Shatter Meet Records at Asian Games; Korea Zooms to Gold in 800 Freestyle Relay

Haiyang Qin of China celebrates after competing in the 200m Breaststroke Men Final during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 28th, 2023. Haiyang Qin placed first winning the gold medal.

Qin Haiyang, Siobhan Haughey Shatter Meet Records at Asian Games; Korea Zooms to Gold in 800 Freestyle Relay

The first day of pool action at the Asian Games was nothing short of sensational, with China dominating the competition behind the efforts of Wang Shun and Pan Zhanle. Wang (200 individual medley) and Pan (100 freestyle) produced two of the fastest times in history in their events and set the stage for additional speed to come.

Here is what unfolded on Day Two.

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Men’s 50 Backstroke

Coming off a 52-low performance en route to gold in the 100 backstroke, China’s Xu Jiayu cruised to a half-second triumph in the one-lap event. The bronze medalist in the 50 back at the World Championships over the summer, Xu touched the wall in 24.38, with countryman Wang Gukailai securing the silver medal in 24.88. The bronze medal went to Japanese veteran Ryosuke Irie, as he touched in 25.15.

The fact that Xu, a former world champion in the 100 backstroke, is showing this type of speed not only indicates he placed his emphasis on the Asian Games.  It also is a positive development for China’s 400 medley relay heading into the Olympic year. If Xu can go out with the top backstrokers in the world, China is well-situated with Qin Haiyang on breaststroke and Pan Zhanle on freestyle. The key is finding a reliable butterfly leg.

Women’s 50 Backstroke

It was another gold-silver outing for China in the women’s backstroke sprint, with Wang Xueer earning the gold medal in 27.35. Wang was more than a half-second faster than the 27.99 she managed in the event final at Worlds. Picking up the silver medal was China’s Wan Letian, who was just behind her countryman in 27.41. Rounding out the podium was China’s Miki Takahashi, behind a swim of 28.21.

Men’s 50 Freestyle

The Chinese grip on the top step of the podium was finally broken when Korea’s Ji Yuchan recorded a Games record in the third sprint event to open the Day Two finals. Ji posted a time of 21.72 to better the Asian Games standard of 21.84, which he established during the prelims. Ji wasn’t far off the Asian standard in the event, which stands to Japan’s Shinri Shioura at 21.67 from 2019.

Hong Kong’s Ian Yentou Ho was the silver medalist, as he dipped under the 22-second barrier in 21.87. That effort was quick enough to fend off China’s Pan Zhanle, the winner of the 100 freestyle on the opening night of competition. Pan checked in for the bronze medal at 21.92.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

As expected, Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey, the former University of Michigan star, eased her way to the title in the 200 freestyle. Haughey surged to the front of the field off the start and was never challenged, a Games record of 1:54.12 not too far off her Asian record of 1:53.92. By the 100-meter mark, Haughey had built a 1.45-second lead over China’s Li Bingjie, who ended up with the silver medal in 1:56.00. Li captured gold in the 1500 freestyle on Day One.

At the World Championships, Haughey just missed a medal in the 200 freestyle, as her mark of 1:53.96 landed her in fourth place. Her ability to nearly replicate that time at the Asian Games speaks to her consistency. The bronze medal was claimed by China’s Liu Yaxin in 1:56.43.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

In the absence of Adam Peaty from global competition, there has been a shift in the dynamic of the 100 breaststroke and the man who has taken the helm starred again on Monday night. China’s Qin Haiyang, who swept the breast events at the World Championships, delivered a Games record in the 100 breast, going 57.76. Qin went out in 26.69 and came home in 31.07 to easily defeat China’s Yan Zibei, who was the silver medalist in 59.09.

En route to gold at the World Championships, Qin clocked a mark of 57.69, so his time at the Asian Games indicates he is in similar form. While Peaty is the only man to go sub-57 in history, Qin has now registered several 57-mid performances to generate momentum toward the 2024 Olympic Games. If Peaty can regain his form, the 100 breaststroke could feature a spectacular showdown in Paris.

The bronze medal behind the Chinese tandem went to Korea’s Choi Dongyeol in 59.28.

Women’s 200 Individual Medley

The bronze medalist in the 200 medley at Worlds, China’s Yu Yiting put together a wire-to-wire triumph and scared the Asian record with a swim of 2:07.75. That time was just off the Asian standard of Ye Shiwen, who went 2:07.57 for gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Yi was nearly a second quicker than the 2:08.74 she managed at the World Champs.

An opening fly leg of 26.62 put Yi comfortably in front and she expanded her gap on the field through the remainder of the race. Her mark was good for a Games record and was more than two seconds quicker than Ye, who finished in 2:10.34. The bronze medal was picked up by Korea’s Kim Seoyeong in 2:10.36.

Men’s 800 Freestyle Relay

Korea closed out Night Two in style by defeating China for gold and setting an Asian record in the 800 freestyle relay. Korea has been cited as an Olympic medal contender in the event, and it demonstrated why via a winning time of 7:01.73. That effort was quicker than what Australia clocked for the bronze medal at the World Championships.

Yang Jaehoon jumpstarted Korea with a leadoff split of 1:46.83, which trailed Wang Shun of China, as he opened in 1:45.96. But Korea took command from that point forward. On the second leg, Korea received a 1:45.36 split from Lee Hojoon and Kim Woomin followed with a superb split of 1:44.50. The last leg was left to Hwang Sunwoo, and he punctuated the victory with an anchor leg of 1:45.04.

Pan Zhanle closed in 1:44.77 for China, which was timed in 7:03.40. Japan claimed the bronze medal in 7:06.29, with Tomoru Honda and Katsuhiro Matsumoto each going 1:45.59 for their legs.


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