INCHEON, South Korea (AFP) – Kim Dar-Ae scored the winner as South Korea ended China’s 12-year reign as the Asian Games women’s hockey champions with a 1-0 win in the final on Wednesday.
Kim’s decisive goal in the 41st minute handed the Koreans the title they won four times in a row from 1986 to 1998 before China emerged victorious in the last three editions.
Cheered by some 1,000 home fans, the Koreans ran into each other’s arms after the final whistle, having avenged a penalty shootout loss in the 2010 final at Guangzhou.
India, who lost to South Korea in the semi-finals, defeated Japan 2-1 to pick up the bronze medal.
Jaspreet Kaur put India ahead with a penalty corner shot in the 23rd minute, and even though Akane Shibata drew level in the 44th, Vanadana Kataria scored the winner a minute later.
Japan were bronze medallists at Guangzhou, while India won back the medal it last gained in Doha in 2006. Indian coach Neil Hawgood said the win will boost women’s hockey in the cricket-mad country.
“The girls played their best hockey in the tournament,” Hawgood said.
“They learnt how to manage pressure associated with a medal game. They have grown up physically and mentally.
“I am satisfied. I do not want to conquer the world. I just want to make India the best team in Asia.”
Japan’s South Korean coach Yoo Seung-Jin apologised to their fans after the defeat.
“I just want to say sorry to all the supporters and fans in Japan,” Yoo said. “I am obviously disappointed by the result. But we worked very hard.
“India played very well. We had many chances to score during the match, especially in the third quarter. We also had penalty corners, but we could not convert.”