Hangzhou (Reuters) – Breakdancing kicked off at the Asian Games in a whirlwind of baggy pants and beats while Afghanistan broke Pakistan in the men’s cricket on Friday to book a gold medal decider against India.
A year out from breakdancing’s debut at the Paris Olympics, b-boys and b-girls competed in the continental showpiece for the first time, performing tricks to ear-splitting jams in front of a panel of judges and several thousand spectators.
Along with esports’ debut as a medal event in Hangzhou, organisers hope “breaking” can help attract young viewers turned off by traditional Games sports.
Cricket has returned to the Games with another audience in mind — the millions upon millions of fans in south Asia.
Debutants India thumped Bangladesh by nine wickets in the semi-finals of the T20 tournament but fans’ hopes for a gold medal showdown with bitter rivals Pakistan were crushed.
Gulbadin Naib’s Afghanistan restricted Pakistan to a modest total of 115 and chased it down with 13 balls to spare at the Zhejiang University of Technology ground.
Pakistan, who failed to medal in the women’s event won by India, have only bronze to play for against Bangladesh.
Only weeks after claiming the 102kg weightlifting world title in Saudi Arabia, China’s Liu Huanhua bulked up for the 109kg division and stunned Uzbekistan’s Olympic champion Akbar Djuraev.
Liu hoisted a combined 418kg to pip twice world champion Djuraev by a kilogram.
“Previously I had competed in 102kg so today I did not perform to my best,” said 22-year-old Liu.
“But the crowd was so enthusiastic that they lifted me up, and I had this driving force inside me.”
It was not the first big disappointment for Uzbekistan at the hands of the hosts.
Their canoe slalom silver medallist Anvar Klevleev was in line for gold in the men’s event with a total run time of 98.63 seconds.
But the gold ended up with home competitor Xie Yuancong who successfully appealed against a 50-second penalty for missing the third gate of the course.
The Uzbek soccer team were also thrashed 7-0 by China for the women’s bronze medal. Japan play North Korea for the gold later on Friday.
A second Saudi Arabian runner was banned for a positive doping test for darbepoetin, a blood-booster similar to erythropoietin (EPO).
Middle distance runner Wesam Nasser A Alfarsi, who finished last of 12 runners in the 3,000m steeplechase last Sunday, became the sixth athlete overall to be banned at the Games.
Turkmenistan’s Tejen Tejenov, who took silver in the men’s +90kg kurash event, became the first Hangzhou medallist to be banned for doping on Thursday.
The equestrian programme wrapped up, with Abdullah Al-Sharbatly trotting away with his sixth Asian Games gold for Saudi Arabia after winning the individual jumping title.
Al-Sharbatly also claimed a fourth team gold after titles at the 2006, 2010 and 2018 Games.
“I’m very proud … because I (was) in the lead by far as the best Saudi athlete with five golds. Now it’s six golds. Amazing,” said the 41-year-old, who was bullish on his chances at the Paris Olympics.
“I am expecting, and I hope, to win gold in Paris … Inshallah, I will do it.”
Three days after her 18th birthday, China’s Wu Shutong attacked late to snatch gold from Japan’s Airi Ebina in the 10km marathon swim at the Qiandao Lake course.
“Competing in the Hangzhou Asian Games is my gift for my birthday,” she said.