Nao Kodaira defeated two-time reigning Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa to claim 500 meter speed skating gold on a day of home Japanese domination at the Asian Winter Games.
It came in a world class competition at the Obihiro Forest Speed Skating Rink here, containing all three medalists at this year’s World Single Distance Championships in Gangneung.
Lee, who remains the 500m world record holder, has struggled with a calf injury all winter.
She still managed to take home World Championship silver, but proved unable to beat Kodaira.
The Japanese star proved too good once. triumphing in 37.39sec and repeating her 1,000m victory yesterday.
Lee finished 0.31 behind in second as Go Arisa of Japan finished a further three hundredths behind.
A photo finish was required to separate her and fourth placed Yu Jing of China, the bronze medal winner at the World Championships.
Japanese skaters won all four gold medals today to the delight of the home crowd.
Miho Takagi won the opening women’s 1,500m event as home stars swept the first four positions.
She clocked an Asian Winter Games record of 1:56.07 to beat team-mate Misaki Oshigari by a mammoth 2.06 seconds.
Nana Takagi completed the fastest three in 1:59.45.
But, because of an Asian Winter Games rule preventing clean sweeps, Zhang Hong of China was awarded bronze after finishing fifth fastest in 2:00.14.
Takuro Oda won the men’s 1,000m in another Asian record of 1:09.33.
Kazakhstan’s Denis Kuzin placed second in 1:09.64 as the podium was completed by Shunsuke Nakamura of Japan in 1:09.76.
Japan made it four from four with a dominant women’s team pursuit win in 3:00.08.
Their closest rivals South Korea were six seconds adrift in 3:06.67.
China took a distant bronze in 3:10.23.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.