The XIV Asian Games is the first major multiple discipline event to be held in Korea since the Olympic Games in Seoul 1988, with many of the regions top international athletes competing and the medals hotly contested in the sailing regatta.
At the Olympic games in Seoul 1988, sailing was held at the Busan Yachting Centre on the southern coast of the country. It was here again that the recently concluded Asian Games held their sailing event, in the waters between the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan in an area renowned for both strong winds and currents.
The event is a perfect indicator for some of the Asian countries to catch a glimpse of who could well be competing in the Olympic Regatta at Athens 2004.
16 Gold medals were awarded in the various classes competing, from the Olympic 470 and Mistral to the Junior Optimist, in a regatta that saw very few of the eleven scheduled races not completed for all classes. More than XXX sailors from XX different nations within the Asian region including competitors from both China and Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan, India, and the middle eastern countries of Qatar and Kuwait. Here we bring you a class-by-class round up of the XIV Asian Games.
420 Men, 470 Men, Laser Men
Lee Dong Woo and Park Jong Woo (KOR) sailing on their native waters dominated the 420 fleet throughout the week. They led by a formidable nine point margin going into the penultimate race out of ten sailed, and with a first and a second in the last two races, guaranteed their gold medal. VONGTIM Damrongsak/ MUSIKUL Sittisak (THA), winners of race eight were also fairly consistent finish second, but the Chinese pair of TANG Mingfeng/MA Zhicheng battled hard to win the bronze medal on the final day.
Jung Sung Ahn and Kim Dae Young won the 470 men's fleet counting no less than 7 firsts in the nine boat fleet. Ranked 119 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, their position at the top in this regatta was never in any doubt. Second placed SEKI Kazuto/TODOROKI Kenjiro (JPN), ranked fortieth in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, finished fourteenth at the Test Event in Athens this year and should look to qualify their country for the Olympic Games in Athens 2004. CHUNG Pei Ming/TAN Wearn Haw (SIN) finished in the bronze medal position after a close finish for silver.
Korean dominance continued in the Laser class, KIM Ho Kon taking the gold medal without dropping a race, with Kevin Lim (MAS) ranked just outside the top100 finishing second, Suzuki Kunio (JPN finished third in a class that summed up the apparent home advantage in the tricky conditions.
The fleet was split between light and heavy men in the Mistral class with both China and Japan featuring in the medals in both. SULAKSANA I Gusti Made Oka (INA) claimed gold in the heavy division, with MO Zehai (CHN) second. ZHOU Yuanguo (CHN) won the light division after a close fought final day with HOMRARUEN Arun (THA), who eventually finished second.
The non Olympic Raceboard fleet was also split into light and heavyweight, SUN Maochun (CHN) winning the heavy fleet division comfortably and, OK Duck Pil (SIN) overtaking GAO Chuanwei (CHN) in the final stages of the event to take the gold medal in the light division.
Optimist Boys, Optimist Girls
In winning the final five races Iitsuka Shibuki (JPN) turned what was looking like a close regatta for him, into a strong gold medal, but with only two results out of the top 3, he showed consistency and maturity to finish first. Zhu Ye (CHN), looked excellent in the first couple of days, scoring three firsts in the initial five races, however, a twelfth and a fifth in races 6 and 7 gave the upper hand to the Japanese sailor. Third placed Teo Wee Chin (SIN) also won two of the eleven races sailed.
In the girls fleet of nine boats, it was the Chinese, Xu Lijia who claimed the gold medal from KIUCHI Yoko (JPN), who herself moved up from the bronze medal position by winning the final two races to take silver from Sarah Lin (SIN)
420 Women, Europe Women, Mistral Women
The women's 420 fleet, which was closely fought, saw only nine races out of the scheduled eleven completed and was topped by SONG Xiaqun and WANG Yan (CHN). They won eventually by seven points from second placed HER Jung Eun and KIM Suk Kyong (KOR), but in truth only ten points separated the top three. HUANG Shiqi Joan and TOH Liying (SIN) finished third. Lu Chungfeng (CHN) won the Europe Women convincingly
ISAF World Ranked number one Lee Lai Shan, had little to trouble her in the Mistral Women class. The 1996 Olympic gold medallist and ISAF World Sailor of the same year won all but two races, she did not need to finish the final two to be assured of a gold medal in the XIV Asian Games. Yin Jian (CHN) finished with a silver medal, only three points ahead of Imai Masako in the bronze medal position.
The Enterprise class was won by JUN Joo Hyun and JUNG Kuen (KOR) sailing on home waters, once again showing how it can be used to their advantage, in second place was ARSHAD Shehryar and MUHAMMAD Riaz (PAK) with a string of second places. The Laser Radial class saw Shen Sheng (CHN) winning all but three races to take the gold whilst Jin Hong Chul (KOR) won the OK by only one point from Mongia Nittin. (IND)
Overall the host nation had an excellent Games in the sailing event with a total tally of six gold medals out of a possible fourteen.