China dropped further behind the United States on the London Olympics medals table after their first day without a win, as South Korea beat fierce rivals Japan to claim men’s football bronze.

With two days of competition left, China were four behind the United States with 37 gold medals to 41, well short of the table-topping 51 they amassed at the Beijing Games in 2008.

China’s best performance of day 14 was silver in the synchronised swimming team event, behind hot favourites Russia who completed their fourth consecutive clean sweep.

“We are still some distance from Russia. They will be our targets in the future for a long while,” said China’s coach Zhang Xiaolei.

“Maybe gold will be our long-term aim. Russia is our motivation. The Russians have ballet, so they have a stronger arts foundation. There are differences in speed and body condition.”

Qiu Bo will expect to collect China’s seventh diving gold medal in today’s 10m platform final, after leading yesterday’s qualifiers. British hope Tom Daley went through in 15th.

Hwang Kyung-Seon claimed South Korea’s 15th gold medal of the Games in the women’s under-67kg taekwondo, cementing fifth position on the medals table.

“It feels like flying. The other players prepared well, but I think I had a lot of luck,” said Hwang, after taking South Korea’s first gold of the taekwondo competition.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s men beat Japan 2—0 in the play-off for bronze to claim the country’s first ever Olympic football medal — and regional bragging rights.

Japan were bidding to emulate the Japanese team of 1968, who won bronze at the Mexico Games, but despite enjoying more possession, the Asian champions were twice unpicked by their opponents’ clinical counter-attacks.

(This article was published on August 11, 2012)
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