By Nick Butler at the Main Press Centre in Incheon

Alia Saeed Mohammed of UAE celebrates winning the 10,000m ©AFP/Getty ImagesThere were two distance-running titles for athletes representing Gulf nations here at the Asian Games on the first night of athletics action, with both winners born in Africa before switching nationality.

First Alia Saeed Mohammed, originally from Ethiopia before changing to the United Arab Emirates in 2010, won a fiercely contested 10,000 metres race when she fought off Ding Changqin of China and Ayumi Hagiwara of Japan to win in a personal best 31 min 51.86sec.

With all three medallist going under 32 minutes, there was a sense of inevitability about the final result as Mohammed always looked like she would have the strongest sprint finish, and so it proved, as she kicked clear to win the first UAE gold of the Games.

"I'm so happy, this is my best time," the 23-year-old said afterwards.

"I am from the United Arab Emirates now, I don't miss Ethiopia."

In the men's 5,000m, there was a similarly impressive victory for Moroccan-born Qatari Mohamed Al Garni, who produced a devastating turn of speed to hold off two Bahraini rivals and ensure that, following two shooting victories, Qatar won a gold medal for a third successive day.

Initially, there was swift vengeance for Bahrain as 17-year-old world junior champion Ruth Jebet, who switched nationality from Kenya last year, crossed the line first in the 3,000m steeplechase, only to be disqualified for stepping out of bounds, with China's Li Zhenzhu promoted to gold. 

Two of the leading contenders in the men's 100m heats ahead of tomorrow's final, Qatari duo Femi Seun Ogunode and Samuel Francis, the Asian record holder who boasts a personal best of 9.99, are each originally from Nigeria.

Yet on a day that saw a changing of the guard in terms of sports taking place - with athletics and wrestling replacing swimming and weightlifting - it was good to see nations other than the east Asian powerhouses enjoy success.

Bekzod Abdurakhmonov of Uzbekistan won on a good day for central Asian countries ©AFP/Getty ImagesBekzod Abdurakhmonov of Uzbekistan won on a good day for central Asian countries ©AFP/Getty Images

Central Asian countries were especially profitable with Uzbek Bekzod Abdurakhmonov winning the men's under 70 kilogram freestyle wrestling title, before Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikistan defended the hammer title he won four years ago in Guangzhou.

Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko won the men's time trial as road cycling action began, finishing 32 seconds clear of Kyrgyztan's 40-year-old veteran Evgenii Vakker, who after silver medals at Hiroshima 1994, Busan 2002, Doha 2006 and Guangzhou 2010, had to be content with the runners-up spot yet again.

It was also a good day for India, who after waiting a week since their first medal won two team titles today, overcoming South Korea in the men's compound archery and then Malaysia in the men's squash.

This latter win avenged an earlier defeat to the same opponents in the women's final, in which Nicol David consolidated her status as one of the greatest players in the history of the game with a sixth Asian Games gold, and a seventh medal.

Nicol David (right) en route to a sixth Asian Games squash title for Malaysia in the women's team event ©AFP/Getty ImagesNicol David (right) en route to a sixth Asian Games squash title for Malaysia in the women's team event ©AFP/Getty Images

North Korea in wrestling, Indonesia in badminton and Iran in archery were other nations to enjoy victories.

But as ever, there was also plenty of success for the top three on the medals table, with China taking four titles in shooting, South Korea two in archery and Japan two in wrestling.

The most surprising moment of the day also involved one of these, as Japan were defeated by Taiwan in the baseball semi-finals, leaving South Korea as the outstanding favourites to beat the Taiwanese and win the final here in Incheon tomorrow. 

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