Members of combined Koreas team celebrate their victory during the ceremony for women's 500-meter dragon boat at the 18th Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (Kim Do-hun/Yonhap via AP)

Combined Koreas crew upgrades to gold; Chelimo wins marathon

August 26, 2018 - 7:14 am

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A day after a delivering the historic first medal for a combined Koreas team, the women's dragon boat crew has upgraded to gold at the Asian Games.

The crew comprising South Koreans and North Koreans won the 500-meter dragon boat final on Sunday at Palembang, which is co-hosting the Asian Games with Jakarta.

A Koreas crew won the bronze in the 200-meter final on Saturday, and celebrated by joining together to sing a popular folk song "Arirang."

At the medal ceremony on Sunday, the "unification" flag was raised into the top position with the adopted anthem played during the medal presentations at a major multi-sports international event for the first time.

South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted Kim Kwang Chol, a North Korean coach of the traditional canoe team, as saying he "felt the strength of a unified nation when we came together, dedicated our minds to a single purpose, and paddled the boat forward."

Rather than being added to the tally of either nation, the gold was awarded to Korea — the name given to the combined teams that are entered in rowing, canoeing and women's basketball.

The Koreas, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, have fielded 60 athletes in combined teams in the three sports along with larger contingents for their respective national squads.

Athletes from both countries paraded into the opening ceremony together last weekend behind the "unification" flag, which features the outline of the peninsula in blue on a white background. It took a week to reap the medals, a big achievement considering the joint canoe crews only had three weeks to prepare for the games.

In the 500, the Koreans finished the six-team final in 2 minutes, 24.788 seconds to hold off China and Thailand.

There could be more gold for the Koreas, too, with the combined women's basketball team reaching the semifinals with a 106-63 win over Thailand.

South and North Korea have entered joint teams in previous international events, starting with the 1991 table tennis world championships, and more recently at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The women's ice hockey team at the Olympics had huge support despite losing all of its games, and inspired more cooperation.

The Korea's women's basketball team, featuring nine South Koreans and three from the North, will play Taiwan in the semifinals, with the winner advancing to the gold-medal game. Taiwan beat the Koreas by two points in the group stage last week.

Track and field competition entered a second day with world champion Rose Chelimo winning the women's marathon for Bahrain in a hot and humid race.

The Kenya-born Chelimo had a big lead by the 30-kilometer mark and won in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 51 seconds.

Chelimo represented Kenya internationally before switching to represent Bahrain ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She won the world championships title in London last year.

Keiko Nogami held off North Korea's Kim Hye Song for silver, finishing more than 1 ½ minutes behind Chelimo.

The final of the men's 100 meters is among the finals in track on Sunday night.

While China is dominating the medals standings at the games, there won't be any gold, silver or bronze added in men's singles in badminton, a sport the nation loves.

Chen Long lost to Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-19, 21-11 in the quarterfinals, meaning China is set to miss a medal in the men's singles for the first time since 2002, and only the second time since 1970.

Jonatan Christie, another local hope, upset top-seeded Shi Yuqi in the second round.

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