Zhang Yufei And Rikako Ikee In Tearful Embrace On 50 Fly Podium As Asian Games Conclude in Hangzhou

Rikako Ikee: Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Zhang Yufei And Rikako Ikee In Tearful Embrace On 50 Fly Podium As Asian Games Conclude in Hangzhou

Zhang Yufei and Rikako Ikee shared a tearful embrace on the 50 fly podium as the Asian Games pool programme concluded in Hangzhou, China.

While Zhang claimed her sixth medal of the meet, the Japanese swimmer paid her first trip to an international podium since being diagnosed with leukemia in February 2019.


Asian Games: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Zhang raced to victory in 25.10 – lowering Ikee’s 2018 Games record of 25.55 in the process – ahead of Chinese teammate Yu Yiting (25.71) with Ikee claiming bronze in 26.02.

The pair embraced tearfully on the podium before emotions ran over once more during the victory parade following the ceremony.

Ikee’s medal was her first in international competition since the 2018 Asian Games where she was named MVP after becoming the first swimmer to win six golds at a single edition of the Games.

She was diagnosed the following February and underwent treatment before returning to training the following year and competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

There she was part of the Japanese women’s medley relay team that finished eighth.

She made her first appearance at a World Championships in six years at Fukuoka, Japan, in July after winning four titles at the Japan 2023 meet in Tokyo.

There Ikee returned to individual racing in the 50 and 100 free and fly, seventh her best result in the 50 fly until Friday.

Zhang has had a medal-laden 2023.

Two golds among a five-medal haul at worlds was followed by an eye-watering nine titles at the World University Games before a further six at the Asian Games.

The four-time Olympic medallist swept the three fly events plus the 50 free, women’s 4×1 free and mixed medley relay.

Clean Sweeps For Qin and Xu

Qin Haiyang made it a treble treble as he swept the breaststroke events in Hangzhou.

That followed his historic triple at the World Championships in Fukuoka before repeating that feat at the World University Games on home soil in Chengdu.

He started the night with just the 50 to go but given he went 26.25 for a Games record in prelims, there was a question as to how close he could get to Adam Peaty’s WR of 25.95, a standard that has stood since the 2017 worlds in Budapest.

Haiyang Qin of China competes in the 200m Breaststroke Men Final with a New World Record during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 28th, 2023.

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

The Chinese swimmer finished in 26.35 ahead of teammate Sun Jiajun who edged out Korea’s Choi Dongyeol by the tightest of margins , 26.92 to 26.93.

Qin leaves Hangzhou with five golds and a silver in the 2IM and will head for Europe to compete in the World Cup tour, a possible date with Peaty awaiting.

Xu Jiayu was not to be outdone as he completed the backstroke treble with victory in the 200.

The two-time Olympic silver medallist stopped the clock in 1:55.57 ahead of Korea’s Lee Juho (1:56.54) and Japan’s Hidekazu Takehara (1:57.63).

Qin and Xu also combined to take gold in both the mixed and men’s medley relays, setting Asian records in both and rattling the world marks.

Li Bingjie won the 800 free in 8:20.01 to make it a golden 400-800-1500 plus silver over 200.

While China won the first four events of the final evening, it was Korea and Japan who shared the last three golds.

Kim Woomin of Korea added the men’s 400 free to his 800 title and 1500 silver as well as the men’s 4×200 title in an Asian record.

Tomoru Honda lowered his Games 200 fly record from the morning to 1:53.15 with the Japanese women taking gold in the medley relay in 3:57.67.

Pool Awash With Chinese Gold

China completely dominated the medals with 28 golds, 21 silvers and three bronzes for an overall haul of 58.

Korea were second in the medal table with six gold, six silver and 10 bronze with Japan next (5, 10, 15).








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7 months ago

Congratulations to all medal winners. Commendations to the Chinese team for their tremendous medal haul.

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