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Asian Games: Japan wins 1st-ever silver medal in sepak takraw

Japan's sepak takraw players (yellow) compete against Indonesia at the Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, on Sept. 1, 2018. Japan won the silver medal following a 2-1 loss in the gold medal match of the men's quadrant. (Kyodo)

PALEMBANG, Indonesia (Kyodo) -- Japan's sepak takraw players won the silver medal at the Asian Games for the first time on Saturday, following a 2-1 loss to Indonesia in the gold medal match of the men's quadrant.

Japan's Yuki Sato, Seiya Takano, Tositaka Naito and Hirokazu Kobayashi and two reserves, lost to the Asian Games hosts 15-21, 21-14, 21-16 at Jakabaring Sport City in Palembang.

Since sepak takraw is a non-Olympic sport, the Asian Games, the biggest multisport tournament after the Olympics, is considered the pinnacle. Japanese players have won nine Asian Games bronze medals but had never stood on either of the podium's top-two steps until Saturday.

"We were gunning for a gold medal and there was just one wall in front of us, but we couldn't get past it," said Takano. "I'm feeling a little frustrated, but we were able to do our best in every single game, so I'm glad we won silver."

In front of a partisan crowd that cheered for Indonesia throughout the match, Japan broke a 6-6 tie and never relinquished the lead in the first set. Indonesia, however, picked up their rhythm and won a tough battle despite Japan leveling at times in the second and third sets.

Sepak takraw, a kind of foot volleyball, is said to have originated in Southeast Asia around the ninth century. The objective of the sport is for one team to send the ball over the net and ground it in the opponent's half without using their hands.

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