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Asian Games: Ota wins gold to save Japan's wrestling blushes

Japan's Ota Shinobo, center, celebrates after defeating Kazakhstan's Kov Kanybek Zholchube during their men's Greco-Roman 60-kilogram final wrestling match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- Shinobu Ota ended Japan's wrestling gold drought at the 2018 Asian Games on Tuesday, his win in the men's Greco-Roman 60-kilogram event stopping a run of eight minor medals.

The 24-year-old from Aomori was ruled to have beaten Kyrgyzstan's Kanybek Zholchubekov 8-3, the win coming on a victory by fall.

"If I didn't win we would still be without a (wrestling) gold medal, so the pressure was on," said Ota, the 59 kg silver medalist at the Rio Olympics in 2016. "I started out nervous but the team has more events tomorrow and I hope this gives us some momentum."

Earlier, Hiroe Minagawa won Japan's eighth medal on the wrestling mats when she was blanked 8-0 in the women's 76 kg final by China's Zhou Quan.

When Minagawa failed to win gold she locked in an unwanted milestone of futility for Japan at these Asian Games, the first in which the country has failed to win a women's wrestling title.

Despite the relative lack of gold, the wrestling medals helped the nation maintain second place on the overall medal table with 12 gold, 17 silver and 18 bronze.

China looks to have established an unassailable lead with its 30 gold, but with South Korea on eight gold in third, Japan is in good shape for its best overall result since its second-place finish at the Hiroshima Games in 1994.

On Tuesday, it was yet again the swimmers that carried the heavy load for Japan.

Rikako Ikee won her fourth gold medal of the games, this time in the 100-meter butterfly. In clocking a 56.30-second time, she set her fourth games record of Jakarta and Palembang 2018.

The wunderkind returned to the pool later for the women's 4x200 freestyle relay, but she was unable to keep her perfect golden run of intact when China easily had Ikee and her teammates' measure.

Japan's Yui Ohashi won Japan's first gold of the night in the women's 400 individual medley, powerful breaststroke and freestyle legs allowing her to overhaul a fast starting Kim Seo Yeong from South Korea.

Yasuhiro Koseki was Japan's other gold medalist in the pool on Tuesday, he won an extremely tight men's 200 breaststroke by a hair, touching out his fast-finishing countryman Ippei Watanabe by 0.01 second.

Japan's other medals on the day came in shooting, water polo and badminton.

Shooter Tomoyuki Matsuda won a silver in the men's 10 m air pistol, scoring 239.7 points in his pursuit of India's Saurabh Chaudhary who beat him by a single point. Takayuki Matsumoto nabbed a bronze in the men's 50 m rifle three positions.

The women's water polo team won a bronze medal after going into its final match equal with Kazakhstan on a three-win, one-loss record.

And after the match, there was not much more separating the teams as Kazakhstan scraped a 12-11 win behind six goals from Zamira Myrzabekova. Japan's Shino Magariyama and Maiko Hashida both scored three goals each, but their efforts were not enough.

Late in the evening, the Japanese men's badminton team was beaten by Indonesia in the semifinals and relegated to bronze.

Reigning world singles champion Kento Momota got the team off to a good start with a 2-1 win, but then the wheels came off as Japan was whitewashed over the final three matches, all by 2-0 scores.

The women ensured a better outcome when they fought past host Indonesia to reach the final.

Having to overcome yet another unlikely loss from its star singles player Akane Yamaguchi, Japan won the final three rubbers to book a spot in the final against China.

In the other team sports, Japan's women dominated.

The soccer team blew Vietnam away 7-0, the basketball team spanked Thailand 91-41, the hockey team stayed unbeaten by topping Hong Kong 6-0, the volleyball team wiped away the Philippines 3-0 and the softballers kept up their torrid pace, beating Hong Kong 15-0 and the Philippines 11-1.

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