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Liu makes entrance, world champion Kamel slumps out

China's Liu Xiang makes his long-awaited Asian Games entrance Monday but there was disaster for 1,500m world champion Youssef Saad Kamel who failed to get through the heats.

other Updated: Nov 22, 2010 11:07 IST

China's Liu Xiang makes his long-awaited Asian Games entrance Monday but there was disaster for 1,500m world champion Youssef Saad Kamel who failed to get through the heats.

Going into Day 10, the hosts continue to headline the medals table with 146 gold to South Korea's 55 and Japan's 30. Iran are next best on 10.

Twenty-six more titles will be decided in archery, athletics, diving, bowling, chess, road cycling, equestrian, fencing, trampoline, tennis and wrestling.

Hurdler Liu, a former world record holder, kicks off his attempt to snag a third successive Asiad gold with his presence helping sell 75,000 tickets for the evening session at the Aota Main Stadium.

The 27-year-old is keen to get back to the levels of performance that saw him become the first Chinese Olympic track gold medallist, at the 2004 Athens Games, which helped make him a multi-millionaire.

"I'm in a good situation now after all my effort. I know I don't have a lot of opportunities left, so the question is whether I can grasp them," he said.

But the Kenyan-born Kamel will take no further part after a shocking run saw him finish 18th out of the 20 starters in the two 1,500m heats.

Hitting the final lap in last place, he was nowhere near the form that saw him claim the 800m title at the 2006 Asiad in Doha and the 1500m crown at the 2009 worlds in Berlin.

Kamel blamed it on injury. "I got an injury on my right knee in June. I told my team officials but they didn't listen to me," he said. "They pushed me to come here and that's why I'm here. I can't achieve anything with an injury." Bahraini hopes now rest with another Kenyan-born runner to lift the title, Belal Mansoor Ali.

In the evening session, there are gold medals on offer in the 100m and 400m for both men and women, the men's pole vault and the women's hammer.

Defending champion Yahya Habeeb of Saudi Arabia and Qatar's Asian record holder Samuel Francis start as favourites in the blue-riband men's 100m final.

On the football field, North Korea face Japan for gold in a repeat of the 2006 women's football final, which the Koreans won on penalties.

The majority of fans at the Tianhe Stadium are likely to get behind North Korea because of close ties between China and its communist ally, as well as the fierce rivalry between Japan and China.

"I want them to have a unified spirit. The 11 players on the pitch should use only one mind," said North Korean coach Kim Kwang-Min. South Korea meet China for bronze.

Meanwhile, China's all-conquering divers hit the water in the first two medal events - the women's 3m synchronised springboard and the men's synchronised 10m platform.

Taiwan is gunning for doubles gold on the tennis courts with Chan Yung-jan and Chuang Chia-jung facing teammates Chang Kai-chen and Hsieh Suwei in the women's final.

They are also in medal contention in the mixed doubles while the men's doubles final features Chinese pair Gong Maoxin and Li Zhe against India's Kishmore Devvarman and Sanam Krishan Singh.

Elsewhere, China's new-found love of cricket will be put to the test when they meet heavyweights Pakistan, with a thrashing on the cards. Nepal face Maldives in the other cricket clash.

First Published: Nov 22, 2010 11:06 IST