HANGZHOU (AFP): Hosts China romped to gold in the men's and women's 100m at the Asian Games as North Korea's weightlifters scorched several world records on an action-packed Saturday.
Golds were up for grabs on a damp day in Hangzhou in everything from diving and eSports to athletics and roller skating.
China inevitably hoovered up many of them to take them to 114 golds in total at the halfway stage of the competition, well clear of Japan (28 golds) and South Korea (27).
The 100m sprints are among the most prestigious events of any Games and it was two Chinese speedsters who thrilled the raucous crowd with victories at the 80,000-capacity Hangzhou Olympic stadium.
First, Ge Manqi raced to the line in 11.23sec to take the women's crown and then Xie Zhenye made it double home delight with his winning time of 9.97sec for the men's title.
Among other notable performances in track and field, the world's number-two ranked pole vaulter EJ Obiena of the Philippines cleared 5.90m for gold and a Games record.
He admitted to mixed feelings, having relegated home favourite Huang Bokai to silver.
"The challenge is I feel a little bit like a villain today -- it's not my medal," he said.
- Records tumble -
There were some eye-popping performances from North Korea's women weightlifters.
They were competing at an international event for the first time since December 2019 after the country sealed its borders because of the pandemic.
But that did not stop them from shattering a slew of world records.
Ri Song Gum broke two world records in the women's 49kg, the first weightlifting event in Hangzhou.
Then Kang Hyong Yong, a 24-year-old with no international pedigree, set a hat-trick of world records in snatch, clean and jerk, and combined on her way to gold in the women's 55kg class.
China's world champion Jiang Huihua, who took silver, said she was "surprised" at Ri's success after such a long absence.
There were tears on the podium as Ri and Kang saluted the North Korean flag -- which was hoisted once again in contravention of a World Anti-Doping Agency edict.
WADA declared the country's national anti-doping body "non-compliant" in 2021 and slapped it with sanctions, including not being able to fly the flag at continental events.
"I feel very happy about breaking the world record and when I see my national flag flying I feel very excited to bring this good news to my people," said Ri.
- Rivalries roar to fore -
Fierce rivalries took centre stage.
North Korea thrashed South Korea 4-1 in a feisty quarter-final of the women's football.
South Korea, led by the English coach Colin Bell, included players who featured at the recent Women's World Cup, where they went out in the group phase.
The neighbours, who are still technically at war, were locked at 1-1 when South Korea forward Son Hwa-yeon was sent off for a second yellow card close to half time.
North Korea made the most of their numerical advantage to score three times in the second period for an ultimately comfortable victory, their players celebrating wildly at the full-time whistle.
Pakistan and arch-rivals India then clashed in the men's hockey group stage.
The highly anticipated showdown turned out to be a mismatch, however, as India thrashed their neighbours 10-2.
India also got one over Pakistan in squash, edging them 2-1 in the final of the men's team competition.
- Table tennis shock -
In other action, China's Zhang Zhizhen won the men's singles tennis, adding his gold to the one collected by Zheng Qinwen in the women's singles a day earlier.
"It's been a very, very tough week, not just this match, but very tough for the whole week actually, from the first match onwards," said Zhang.
In table tennis, the hosts won all five golds five years ago and are a global superpower in the sport.
But they were on the end of three defeats in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
In the biggest shock, the 16th-ranked Indian women's pair of Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee -- not related -- defeated world champions Chen Meng and Wang Yidi 3-1 to reach the last four. - AFP