'Queen Wen' reigns at Asian Games as Faker chases gold and exemption

HANGZHOU: Zheng Qinwen won the Asian Games women's tennis title in Hangzhou to add to her fast-growing reputation while eSports star "Faker" will later today chase gold of his own – and an exemption from military service.

Thirty-three gold medals were up for grabs on day six, with the 20-year-old Zheng defeating fellow Chinese player Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4 to claim one of them in the women's singles final.

US Open quarter-finalist Zheng, ranked 23 in the world, can now put Games gold with her first WTA title, which she won in July in Palermo, Italy.

"I feel different because here I'm representing my country. In Palermo that was my personal achievement," said Zheng, fondly known by her growing number of fans as "Queen Wen."

"That title, because I did poorly in the previous two Grand Slams, I needed to play some low-level tournaments to earn more points.

"But this time for the Asian Games we worked hard and did a lot of preparation because we regard this competition as very important."

The host nation also swept the first titles in athletics in Hangzhou as Zhang Jun came first in the men's 20km race walk and teammate Yang Jiayu did likewise in the women's event.

Those successes helped bumped China up to 96 golds in the overall medals table, well ahead of South Korea (24 golds) and Japan (21).

Japan bagged gold and silver in men's individual triathlon thanks to Kenji Nener and Makoto Odakura.

India are up to fourth with eight golds in total after their already successful shooting team grabbed two more.

The action heats up later in the day with the first events in track and field, with finals in women's hammer throw, women's 10,000m and women's shot put.

The sixth and final day of swimming is likely to see yet more success for the hosts, spearheaded by Qin Haiyang and Zhang Yufei – she is chasing a sixth gold of the Games when she goes in the 50m butterfly.

Teammate Qin has been the dominant male swimmer in Hangzhou and is bidding to match his unprecedented world championship exploits by completing a sweep of the breaststroke titles.

With the 100m and 200m already won, he blitzed through his 50m heat today in a searing 26.25sec, a new Games record and just outside the 26.20 that won him the world title at Fukuoka in July.

It was the second-best time of his career and the 10th quickest in history, with only British great Adam Peaty, who owns eight of the top 10 and the 25.95 world record, surpassing it.

Qin has already said that his attention will immediately turn to the Paris 2024 Olympics after these Games.

"I had a great time because I have already been here once in May (for the national championships) and I am very satisfied with the arena," he said of Hangzhou's Aquatic Sports venue.

Also in the evening, in eSports, Lee "Faker" Sang Hyeok and his teammates on South Korea's League of Legends team will face Taiwan for gold.

There is an added incentive – victory in the final will earn them an exemption from having to do military service back home.

With South Korea still technically at war with North Korea, all able-bodied South Korean men must serve at least 18 months in the military.

Exemptions from serving in the military are controversial in South Korea and the prospect of gamers earning one has reignited the debate about who should and shouldn't be eligible.

ESports is a medal event at the Games for the first time. - AFP

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