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Kitajima wins first title in two years

Written by: Staff
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DOHA, Dec 4 (Reuters) Japan's Kosuke Kitajima claimed his first major title in two years today, winning gold in the men's 100m breaststroke at the Asian Games.

A determined Kitajima, the reigning Olympic champion, got off the blocks sharply and was never headed, cruising home in a time of 1:01.13 ahead of team mate Makoto Yamashita and 50m champion Vladislav Polyakov of Kazakhstan.

Kitajima turned at the halfway stage in 28.71, just 0.33 slower than his individual 50m rac,e and powered down the second length to end his barren spell.

''I was determined to win,'' said the former world record holder.

''I had a terrible start in the 50m event and it cost me the race. That's where I got my motivation from.'' The 24-year-old said he was relieved to be winning again after a series of injuries left him without a title in more than two years.

''I wasn't happy with the time, but this is a stepping stone to the world championships and the Olympics.'' Kitajima's gold was one of four for Japan, who look to be turning the tables on China following their five-gold haul on the first day.

Japan's other gold medals came in the women's 200m butterfly through Yurie Yano, the men's 200m backstroke with Ryosuke Irie and the men's 4x200m freestyle relay.

Rafd Zyad Almasri won Syria's first swimming gold medal at the Asian Games when he took the men's 50m freestyle title in a time of 22.41.

Almasri hung on inside a desperate final five metres with Japan's Makoto Ito and China's Cai Li closing in.

''This was Syria's first Asian Games swimming gold medal,'' he said. ''This is a big thing. I hope more will follow now.'' After a disappointing second night in the pool and a fierce dressing-down from their team coach, China produced one-two finishes in two women's races.

Zhao Jing came home first in the 50m backstroke in 28.69 with Gao Chang winning silver. Yang Jieqiao dominated the women's 400m freestyle, winning in 4:12.75 ahead of team mate Zhu Wenrui.

Reuters DH DB2344

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