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Where EAST meets the Northwest


GOLDEN STREAK. Japanís Rikako Ikee swims in her heat of the womenís 100m butterfly during the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ikee earned six gold medals at the competition, becoming the first woman in any sport to accomplish the feat at a single Asian Games. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

From The Asian Reporter, V28, #17 (September 3, 2018), page 9.

Japanese teenager Rikako Ikee takes home six gold medals at Asian Games

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) ó Rikako Ikee turned Jakartaís Asian Games pool into her own golden pond. Each time she dove into the water, she came out with another medal.

When swimming the butterfly leg for the Japanese team that won the womenís 4x100-meter medley relay, the 18-year-old Ikee did it again.

The victory gave her a fifth gold and her seventh medal overall in Jakarta, which left her in a tie for second in two of the most significant medal categories in the 67-year history of the regionís biggest multi-sports event.

Only North Korean shooter So Gin Man had tallied more at one edition, winning a total of eight medals, including seven gold, at the 1982 Asian Games.

Then Ikee earned one more on the sixth and final day of swimming, winning the 50-meter freestyle final by a fingertip in 24.53 seconds, and becoming the first woman in any sport to win six gold medals at a single Asiad.

"I feel a bit broken and my body aches," Ikee said. "Iím proud to be an Asian champion, but I want to achieve more."

Ikee may get her chance. She also won four medals at the recent Pan Pacs against opposition from the United States, Canada, and Australia and is surfacing as Japanís great hope for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Hong Kong and Singapore also won medals in the relay, but only after China and South Korea, which initially finished second and third, were disqualified for leaving the blocks too early.

Only the tiny city-state of Singapore has broken the domination of Japan and China in the pool, courtesy of Joseph Schoolingís titles. The 100 butterfly Olympic champion wasnít at his best in the 50 fly but he found a way to get his hands on the wall first in 23.61 seconds, edging Chinaís Wang Peng by 0.04.

"I think itís more like a controlled rage, all I was thinking about was trying to get my hips up and down as quick as I could, try not to spin, try not to slip too much. The rest, you can only hope for the best," he said.

Chinese backstroker Xu Jiayu was more animated than usual after he captured his fourth gold of the games, winning the 200 in one minute, 53.99 seconds, then straddling the lane rope and raising his arms in the air in triumph before slamming his fists into the water.

Already a world champion for the 100 backstroke, he is shaping up as one of Asiaís best Olympic hopes for Tokyo 2020. He earned three backstroke titles in the meet, scooped up a bonus gold in the mixed relay, and won another in the menís medley relay. He is now only the second male swimmer to win five gold medals at a single Asian Games.

Chinaís Wang Jianjiahe beat the Asian Games record to win the womenís 800 freestyle in 8:18.55, but Japan won the two other events that day.

Shinri Shioura beat his Japanese teammate, Katsumi Nakamura, by a fingernail to win the menís 100m freestyle gold in 48.71, with Nakumura clocking in at 48.72, while Satomi Suzuki won the womenís 50 breaststroke in 30.03 to collect her third gold in the Indonesian capital.

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