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Kazakhs extend winning streak at Asian Games


Hosts Kazakhstan continued their winning run at the Asian Winter Games on Friday, earning five more gold medals.

The performance allowed the Kazakhs to gain an impressive lead in the Games medal table with 23 gold medals and 56 overall, while second-placed South Korea has so far clinched 11 gold medals and 30 overall. Japan sit third with nine golds.

Jung Donghyun of South Korea grabbed the only gold medal for his team on Friday winning the men's alpine skiing super-combined.

He clocked an aggregate time of one minute 45.70sec to stay just 0.12sec ahead of Kazakhstan's Igor Zakurdayev, who won Tuesday's super-G and was leading the combined after the first run. Another Korean, Kim Woosung, was third.

"I intended to win here and I'm happy I managed to do it," Donghyun said. "The win at such a prestigious event will allow me to avoid military service on my return home."

Meanwhile, Wang Fei of China won the women's 1500m distance in speed skating, setting a new Asian record with a time of 1:58.37, beating her own previous best which she established at the previous winter Asiad in 2007.

Noh Seonyeong of South Korea was second at 0.9sec, while Japan's Nao Kodaira took bronze.

Japanese biathlete Junji Nagai, who was third in the sprint and second in the pursuit, collected a complete set of the Games medals after winning the men's individual 20km event.

Chinese biathletes Ren Long and Li Zhonghai finished second and third respectively.

Kazakhstan's speedskater Denis Kuzin also broke the previous Asian record in the men's 1500m, clocking 1:47.37.

South Koreans Mo Tae Bum and the previous record holder Lee Kyou Hyuk completed the podium.

Local ski jumper Evgeni Levkin produced a sensational performance to win gold in the individual K95 event with a mark of 252.0pts.

The result of Kazakhstan's youngest participant left the event's clear favourite Yoshioka Kazuya of Japan, who won individual K125 competition on Monday, 3.5pts behind with silver. Another local favourite, Radik Zhaparov, clinched bronze.

"I'm very happy with my win. It's my career first gold medal," said the 18-year-old Levkin. "Speaking frankly I still do not believe I could overcome two-time Asian champion Kazuya."

Veteran Kazakh biathlete Yelena Khrustaleva also clinched gold in the women's individual 15km event.

An accurate shooting display by the 30-year-old helped her finish 1:15 ahead of Fuyuko Suzuki of Japan, with Marina Lebedeva taking bronze.

Lyudmila Fedotova also added a gold medal to Kazakhstan's tally by winning the women's alpine skiing super-combined.

Kim Sun Joo of South Korea, who already won two titles here -- downhill on Monday and Super-G on Tuesday -- was also the favourite in the alpine ski programme-closing event.

She topped the combined after the first run but failed to finish the slalom in the final metres, allowing Fedotova in to grab the gold.

Another South Korean, Jeong Sora, won silver with Xenia Stroilova of Kazakhstan claiming bronze.

Kazakhstan's bandy squad, the Games' red hot favourites, confirmed their top status beating their opponents from Mongolia 17-0. The two teams will meet again in Sunday's final to decide gold.

Figure skater Denis Ten rounded off the day's schedule by winning Kazakhstan's fifth gold of the day with a solid presentation of his free programme for a 208.89pts mark.

The 17-year-old local finished two points ahead of Japan's Takahito Mura, with Song Nan of China in third.