Incheon: Running on fumes and adrenalin, Japanese sensation Kosuke Hagino won his fourth swimming gold medal of the Asian Games in the men's 400 metres individual medley on Wednesday. (Day 5 Blog | Medal Tally)
The 20-year-old, already being tipped to win medley gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, roared back on the final leg of freestyle to touch in four minutes, 7.75 seconds, taking his medals tally to six in South Korea.
"That was hard work, I felt like I could be in a bit of bother," Hagino told reporters. "I didn't expect to feel that tired but I kept it together somehow. Obviously the freestyle did bail me out."
However, China stretched their lead over Japan in the gold medal standings to 15-8 after winning four of the seven titles on offer on day four, with their female swimmers storming to three individual titles and the men winning the 4x100m freestyle relay. (Japan Fined for Celebrating After Sprint Gold)
Hagino's exertions at these Games looked to have taken their toll on Japan's team leader after an exhausting schedule including two tooth-and-nail scraps with Chinese Olympic gold medallist Sun Yang in the 200m and 400m freestyle.
But after stunning Sun in the 200m last weekend and pushing him hard in Tuesday's 400m to claim silver, Hagino dug in and blew past China's Yang Zhixian and team-mate Daiya Seta to win by 2.43 seconds for a new meet record.
"I kept it together and pulled it out even though I wasn't quite feeling it tonight," said Hagino, who also scored a sensational win over Michael Phelps at last month's Pan Pacific championships.
"But if I want to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal there I will need to do a lot better than that and be more aggressive over the first half of the race." (Read: Xiang Yanmei Sees off North Korean to Take China Top)
Shen Duo added the women's 200m freestyle title to her gold in the 100m, Jiao Liuyang defended her 200m butterfly crown and Fu Yuanhui won the women's 100m backstroke in another impressive display of girl power from the powerhouse Chinese.
Sun swam a powerful third leg for China as they upset Japan to win the 4x100m freestyle relay, clocking an Asian record of 3:13.47.
Singapore's Joseph Schooling won the city state's first-ever men's Asian Games gold medal, touching in 51.76, while there was a second gold medal for surprise package Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan, who captured the men's 100m breaststroke in a new Games best of 59.92. (Related: Asian Games Hit by Hijab Row as Qatar Women Withdraw From Basketball)
"I wasn't really thinking about it but it always sounds good to break records and surpass milestones," said Schooling, a freshman at the University of Texas. "It's a huge step."
Balandin, who has burst onto the scene in Incheon, said: "I didn't expect to win two gold medals. My expectation was to win some bronze. I'm very proud to see the flag of Kazakhstan rise here."