Asian Games: South Korea's Son Heung-min wins football gold and military exemption

South Korea's Son Heung-min (right) and Hwang Ui-jo celebrating after winning the Asian Games football final yesterday. MORE ASIAN GAMES REPORTS SPORT A26-28
South Korea's Son Heung-min (right) and Hwang Ui-jo celebrating after winning the Asian Games football final yesterday. MORE ASIAN GAMES REPORTS SPORT A26-28ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

One of the Asian Games' biggest stars received his gold medal - and an additional bonus - after South Korea beat Japan 2-1 in the football final last night.

Tottenham's Son Heung-min had set up both Lee Seung-woo and Hwang Hee-chan's goals in extra time. His reward: Exemption from military conscription.

All male South Koreans must serve 21 months in the military but athletes who win gold at the Asiad or an Olympic medal are exempted.

China top the medal table with 123 golds, followed by 2020 Olympics host Japan on 74.

Son's South Korea are third on 49, with the Games due to close today.

Singapore's 264 athletes from 21 sports have ended their campaign and will return home with four golds, four silvers and 14 bronzes from nine sports. While they failed to match the achievements of the Class of 2014 (5-6-14 across eight sports), it is worth highlighting that 77 per cent were competing at this event for the first time.

The swim team, led by two-gold medallist Joseph Schooling were solid in the pool, delivering six medals, a Games record, seven national records, and 15 of the 18 personal bests recorded in Indonesia.

However, other traditional sources of medals tripped up, with the likes of table tennis, women's bowling and sailing returning with less than their reputations had suggested they would.

Surprising performances from other sports helped boost Singapore's numbers, such as contract bridge (one gold), ju-jitsu (one silver) and canoeing (a bronze).

From tomorrow, a new countdown begins - not just to the next edition in four years' time but also Tokyo 2020. It offers athletes like rower Joan Poh, who finished ninth, well short of her top-six target, a chance at a fresh start.

"The standard is high, and it's easy to be disheartened," she said. "But I will keep at it, keep training for the Olympic dream."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline 'S. Korea's Son wins gold and exemption'. Print Edition | Subscribe