By Nick Butler at the Main Press Centre in Incheon

Kosuke Hagimo looks as if he cannot quite believe it after touching the wall first ©Getty ImagesIn the most eagerly anticipated moment of these Asian Games so far, the men's 200 metres freestyle swimming final lived up to its billing in spectacular fashion as Kosuke Hagino produced a sensational finish to snatch a thrilling victory over two more established opponents.

Indeed, the build-up to these Games has been dominated by talk of whether home favourite Park Tae-hwan could win three gold medals, and in doing so beat his Chinese foe Sun Yang, the man who won two freestyle titles to Park's one at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

And when the double defending champion from South Korea came onto the shoulder of his rival with 50m to go the crowd were roaring on their man, confident that Park could continue the trend of superb host nation performances that have characterised the opening two days here.

But he had not bargained for Hagino, an Olympic bronze medal winner in the 400m individual medley who has since broadened his focus to other events.

Using all of the endurance and mental toughness required for his gruelling former speciality, the Japanese sensation appeared to glide past his two rivals before touching first in 1min 45.23sec, after completing the final 50m in a staggering time of exactly 26 seconds.

Five-hundredths of a second behind was Sun in second place, while Park, who admitted afterwards to feeling intense pressure going into the Games, having to be content with bronze.

Kosuke Hagino is awarded the 200m freestyle gold ©AFP/Getty ImagesKosuke Hagino is awarded the 200m freestyle gold ©AFP/Getty Images

It was a contest that brought back memories of the famous "Race of the Century" over 200m at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, when Ian Thorpe of Australia pipped Dutch rival Pieter van den Hoogenband and a teenage Michael Phelps in a race that had a similarly intense build-up.

"I didn't think I could win against Sun Yang and Park Tae-hwan, so I'm really happy with the result," said the 20-year-old winner afterwards.

"We get along well and I enjoyed competing against them.

"I saw that there was no one behind and thought I might have a chance of winning it so I kicked really hard in the last 50."

It was a great night for Japan after two further men's titles in the pool, courtesy of Daiya Seto in the 200m butterfly and Ryosuke Irie in the 100m backstroke, who won a fifth Asian Games gold medal.

In the space of barely an hour, the nation that will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games also won two judo titles, as well as the men's team gymnastics crown, where Olympic and four-time reigning world champion Kōhei Uchimura spearheaded the team to victory over South Korea and China, the two nations that remain above Japan on the medals table.

But the two neighbouring countries also enjoyed plenty of success on a second day of action here in which a total of 24 medals were won.

While Japan swept the male events, China did likewise in the female ones in the pool, with Zhang Yuhan winning the 400m freestyle and Shi Jinglin doing likewise in the 100m breaststroke, before the country claimed a third victory in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

There were further Chinese victories in wushu and track cycling, as well as in the team and individual trap shooting competitions, while South Korea enjoyed a golden end to the evening with two titles apiece in fencing and judo, as well as two earlier ones in pistol shooting, to leave them on top of the medals table for the second night running.

Kim Jung-Hwan celebrates after an all South Korean sabre fencing final ©AFP/Getty ImagesKim Jung-Hwan celebrates after an all South Korean sabre fencing final ©AFP/Getty Images

With the three East Asian powerhouses flexing their muscles, it was difficult for the rest of the continent to have a look in, although Vietnam, courtesy of wushu winner Duong Thuy Vi, and Hong Kong, through keirin cyclist Lee Wai Sze, both made the top step of the podium.

Also on day two, there were two shooting silvers for Kuwait, a first ever Asian Games judo medal for Lebanon, and, away from the medals, a shock victory for Thailand, the world's ranked 100th team, over third-ranked Japan in women's volleyball.

But for drama and top-level performance, for the second day running it was weightlifting that provided several of the most memorable moments.

First, Olympic champion Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan broke the under 52 kilogram snatch world record only to miss out on gold when Taiwan's Hsu Shu-ching, runner-up behind the Kazakh at London 2012, set a new overall record mark to claim gold in a competition in which even the bronze medal winner, Zhang Wanqiong of China, set a world junior record.

North Korean Kim UnGuk then went one better than his compatriot Om Yun-Chol managed yesterday, when Om set a new clean and jerk world record, by setting two world record marks, in the snatch and overall, to dominate the men's under 62kg competition.

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