Updated: 10/07/2013 23:18 | By Agence France-Presse

China takes early medals lead in East Asian Games

Hosts China took an early lead in the medals table on the opening day of the East Asian Games on Monday, winning 22 of the first 40 golds awarded.


China takes early medals lead in East Asian Games

China's Zhang Chengjie (right) competes against South Korea's Jaeho Song during their fencing men's individual epee round at the East Asian Games in Tianjin October 7, 2013

Chinese athletes triumphed in events including shooting disciplines, taekwondo contests, diving, weightlifting, and the men's hammer at the quadrennial multi-sport event, being held in the northern port of Tianjin. 

China also had 13 silver and nine bronze medals by the end of Monday.

Japan was in second place, with six golds, seven silvers and 12 bronzes, just ahead of South Korea on four golds, 11 silvers and 11 bronzes.

Taiwan was in fourth, with four golds, three silvers, and four bronzes.

The first gold to be awarded went to Japanese distance runner Riko Matsuzaki, 20, who won the women's 5,000m race in 16 minutes 9.72 seconds.

North Korea's Kim Chun-Mi came a distant second in 16 minutes 35.79 seconds, and China's Fu Tinglian took bronze with 16 minutes 40.52 seconds.

The East Asian Games are a contest between athletes from China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Guam.

More than 2,400 athletes are taking part in the games, competing in 24 different sports, according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

Among the stars expected to appear is China's 17-year-old swimmer Ye Shiwen, who claimed two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics but delivered a disappointing performance at July's World Championships in Barcelona, where she failed to medal.

But several other top Chinese athletes, including swimmer Sun Yang and badminton player Lin Dan, will be absent.

Rising sprinter Zhang Peimeng, who recently broke China's 100m and 200m national records, is expected to only run in the men's 4x100m relay.

More than 1,500 performers took part in Sunday's opening ceremony at Tianjin Gymnasium, which state media described as "frugal but splendid".

In a move apparently aimed at underscoring China's recent campaign to crack down on government spending, the scaled-back event did not include a fireworks display, Xinhua said.

It is the last time the East Asian Games will be held in their current form, Xinhua reported, with the event due to be transformed into a youth games for athletes aged 14 to 18.

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