Japan’s Hagino triple gold medal win sparks Chinese official’s rant

By Alastair Himmer, AFP

INCHEON, South Korea–Japan’s Kosuke Hagino followed a shock 200 meters freestyle gold by adding his signature 200m individual medley and the 4x200m freestyle relay title at the Asian Games on Monday as signs of Chinese frustration began to show. Hagino’s heroics helped Japan finish the second day of the swimming competition in Incheon leading powerhouse China 7-5 in gold medals, prompting a furious rant from a Chinese team official. As Hagino got up to leave the press conference, chief technical researcher Lu Yifan told him to sit down, snapping: “Wait just a moment! Japan might be leading now but we’ve only had two days and I can assure you it’s just a temporary position.

“Yes, Japan are a powerful team but we will catch up very soon.” After stunning heavyweights Sun Yang and Park Tae-Hwan on the opening day of swimming, Hagino pulverized the opposition to win the 200m medley in an Asian record of one minute, 55.34 seconds. Hagino, 20, who scored a pulsating victory over Michael Phelps at last month’s Pan Pacific championships, won by more than three seconds from teammate Hiromasa Fujimori at the aquatics arena named after South Korean star Park. He swam the second leg as Japan won the 4x200m freestyle in a new Games record of 7:06.74 — almost 10 seconds clear of a China quartet missing Sun, who pulled out after hurting his thumb in Sunday’s 200m final. “We’re leading China now and if we all take care of our personal targets we could end up in a good place,” said Hagino politely, but still managing to get under Lu’s skin.