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Lee keeps marathon crown

Busan, Oct. 14 (Agencies): Lee Bong-ju of South Korea, who won last yearís Boston Marathon, pulled away at the halfway mark to clinch the last gold medal of the 14th Asian Games which concluded Monday.

The Bangkok Asian Games champion moved ahead at the 22km mark and kept the lead to finish in two hours, 14 minutes and four seconds for his countryís 96th gold medal. Koji Shimizu of Japan took the silver, clocking 2:17:47. Japanís Ryuji Taeki was third in 2:18:38.

Shimizu, Taeki, Lee and his teammate Lim Jin-soo had crossed the 20km mark together. Minutes later Lee started pulling ahead of Taeki, followed by Shimizu. Lim fell to a distant fourth.

Taeki, the only runner with a marathon time under 2:08, started falling further behind. By the 35km mark, Lee was two minutes ahead of Shimizu, who had already passed Taeki. Lee started waving to the cheering fans at the end of his last round inside the main stadium and then ran a victory lap with a large South Korean national flag.

Japanís Kosuke Kitajima, who broke swimmingís oldest standing menís world record, was voted best athlete of the Games. Kitajima, a triple gold medallist, was the overwhelming choice in the vote by journalists covering the event.

He became the first man to crack the 2:10 seconds barrier in 200m breaststroke in his swim of 2:09.97 to smash American Mike Barrowmanís 10-year-old mark. Chinese gymnast Zhang Nan, who won four gold medals, was named runner up.

China achieved their projected gold-medal target of 150 with a thrilling 80-76 win over the hosts in the womenís basketball final. The South Korean men avenged the setback in fantastic style, beating China 102-100 for the menís title after erasing a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit.

TheSouth Korean women converted everything from the foul line ó hitting 11 of 11 attempts ó while the Chinese only shot 57 per cent. China prevailed because they were far superior in scoring from outside.

Later, the victory of the menís team sparked delirious scenes from a partisan crowd of 5,000 but was not without controversy. The Chinese players and coaching staff were visibly upset by the officiating of the neutral referees, who appeared to miss a number of fouls on their 7-foot 5-inch trumpcard Yao Ming.

Taufik Hidayat won the menís badminton gold even as line-call disputes marred the concluding day. The Indonesian beat South Korean Lee Hyun-il 15-7, 15-9 but only after disputing a verdict that held up play for five minutes.

In the womenís doubles final, the Chinese pair of Gao Ling and Huang Sui too protested and their match against South Koreans Ra Kyung-min and Lee Kyung-won was stopped for ten minutes in the second game.

The Hidayat-Lee match was going smoothly but the temperamental Indonesian held up proceedings when he was 9-8 up in the second game. Chief referee Boon Kong-ee of Singapore intervened and said the call was good.

China re-emerged as a drug-free force with a gigantic tally but Japan came up with a disappointing performance, particularly in the pool and at the track. Japan came to Busan eyeing 65 of the 427 gold medals on offer but won only 44.

A slow start in the pool, where Japan won only 11 gold medals to Chinaís 20, set the tone for a more dismal performance in athletics. Koji Murofushi won the menís hammer throw and Shingo Suetsugu took gold in menís 200m but they were the only gold medal winners in athletics.

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