China rowers win first gold of Asian Games

China's Zou Jiaqi (left), and Qiu Xiuping celebrate with their gold medals after winning the lightweight women's double sculls rowing at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. - AP

HANGZHOU, China (AFP): Host nation China won the first gold medal of the Asian Games on Sunday, when Zou Jiaqi and Qiu Xiuping dominated the women's lightweight double sculls rowing final.

The Chinese pair finished in 7min 6.78sec, with Uzbekistan's Luizakhon Islamova and Malika Tagmativa taking silver, almost 10 seconds behind. Indonesia's Chelsea Corputty and Rahma Mutiara Putri won the bronze at the Fuyang Water Sports Centre.

Medals are up for grabs in nine sports on day one of the 19th Asian Games, with hosts China expected to top the table.

Swimming will see seven finals later on Sunday, while shooting, wushu, gymnastics, fencing, judo, taekwondo and modern pentathlon will all crown gold medallists.

Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the Games on Saturday night in a colourful ceremony, launching a two-week sporting extravaganza that boasts more athletes than the Olympics.

After being delayed by a year because of China's now-abandoned zero-Covid policy, more than 12,000 competitors from 45 nations and territories will battle it out in 40 sports.

Although the Games officially opened on Saturday, sports such as football, cricket, volleyball and table tennis had already begun preliminary rounds.

The Games will be staged at 54 venues -- 14 of them newly constructed -- mostly in Hangzhou but also extending to cities as far afield as Wenzhou, 300 kilometres (180 miles) south. - AFP

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China , rowers , first gold , Asian Games , Hangzhou


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