Wong wins controversial road race at Asian Games
Defending champion Wong Kam Po won a controversial men's road race after the original first-place finisher, Park Sung-baek of South Korea, was relegated to 19th for interference in the closing meters.other Updated: Nov 22, 2010 14:28 IST
Defending champion Wong Kam Po won a controversial men's road race on Monday after the original first-place finisher, Park Sung-baek of South Korea, was relegated to 19th for interference in the closing meters.
Park was initially placed first in a photo finish over Wong, both in a time of 4 hours, 14 minutes, 54 seconds. But Park appeared to swing wide to his left in the final stages of the 9-lap, 180-kilometer race, and Wong signaled with his hand in the air immediately and again as he crossed the finish line to claim interference. The judges agreed, and Wong, a 37-year-old former Olympic rider, was given the gold.
Takashi Miyazawa of Japan was moved from third to second to get the silver, and Zou Rongzi of China got the bronze. Officials, who said in a statement that Park was relegated "due to irregular sprint at the finish," demoted Park to the back of the leading pack. The race also featured a crash on the final turn which involved six riders, but there were no serious injuries.
"I knew that I had a good chance to win because I have a fast enough sprint," Wong said. "Park was obviously swerving at the end of the sprint, and I was sure he broke the rules." He said he was "a little worried but confident at the same time," while waiting for the judges to consider the case.
"I didn't think too much during the wait," Wong said. "No matter what the result was, even if I only got the second place, I would have been pleased and would have respected the judgment. I feel very happy in all." Wong has taken part in four Asian Games, and won three golds and one bronze. Miyazawa said the decision to relegate Park was harsh.
"I don't think the Korean rider pushed Wong over deliberately," Miyazawa said. "In a sprint it is difficult to go straight." Wong and Miyazawa were part of a four-man breakaway group that led most of the last 20-kilometer lap of the race held in a leafy university area of Guangzhou. Park moved up in the final kilometer and then initially appeared to have the race won after officials studied videotape of the finish.
But Wong and his coach complained to officials, and after much discussion at the finish line involving both riders and their camps, Wong was given the gold. All three medal winners were given the same time. At the victory ceremony, Wong pumped both hands in the air with his fists clenched as he picked up his gold.
First Published: Nov 22, 2010 14:16 IST