By Yoo Jee-ho
INCHEON, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) -- The 17th Asian Games drew to a close on Saturday, with host South Korea having achieved partial success in the medal race.
South Korea earned 79 gold medals, three more than it captured at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games but still ending in a distant second place behind China.
China once again overwhelmed the competition, having earned 151 gold medals and 343 medals in total. China has topped every Asian Games medal table since 1982.
South Korea accomplished its objective of finishing second in the medals for the fifth consecutive Asiad but came up short of its target of 90 gold medals.
A collage of photos shows South Korean medalists at the Asian Games. (Yonhap)
The host country still won gold medals in popular professional sports such as baseball, men's football and men's basketball. Son Yeon-jae, the star rhythmic gymnast and one of the faces of the Asian Games here, made history by winning South Korea's first Asiad gold in the individual all-around final.
Athletes in the country's traditional gold mines excelled: eight gold medals from shooting, six from taekwondo and five apiece from archery and judo. Early in the competition, fencing led South Korea's quick start with eight gold medals. South Korea won at least a medal in every discipline in fencing.
Victories in major ball sports also packed arenas. South Korea defended its baseball gold medal by rallying in the eighth inning against Chinese Taipei. In an eagerly anticipated gold medal match against North Korea, South Korea scored in the dying moments for a nail-biting 1-0 victory.
In men's basketball, South Korea came from a 75-70 deficit against Iran with two minutes to play to win 79-77, for its first gold since 2002.
The women's basketball, handball and volleyball teams were also golden at the Asian Games, each ending long title droughts.
On the flip side, a handful of star athletes fell flat at home, much to the disappointment of fans.
Swimmer Park Tae-hwan, counted on for multiple gold medals while racing at an arena bearing his own name, walked away with one silver and five bronze medals in seven races.
Park repeatedly said he felt burdened by the weight of expectations at Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Center, a surprising admission for a seasoned athlete who's competed at multiple Olympic Games and world championships.
In artistic gymnastics, Yang Hak-seon took silver in the men's vault -- the very event in which he's won an Olympic gold and two consecutive world championships -- while battling a nagging leg injury.
Jin Jong-oh, a pistol shooter with three Olympic gold medals, won a team gold medal in the men's 10-meter air pistol event but failed to grab his first individual Asiad gold. Jin complained of fatigue, after having to compete at the Asian Games right after returning from the world championships in Spain.
China won more gold medals than the next two countries in the standings, South Korea and Japan, combined.
China excelled across the board, leading all countries in athletics with 15 gold medals and in swimming with 22 gold medals. It also captured half of the 14 gold medals at stake in artistic gymnastics, and six of seven available in table tennis.
Japan ended with 47 gold medals here, compared to the 48 it won at the previous Asiad in Guangzhou.