Sun glad Park raced, while Park impressed by Sun
Updated: 2012-07-29 11:23:43
LONDON - Sun Yang made Olympic history on Saturday night when he won the men's 400 meters freestyle and became the first male Chinese swimmer to win a gold medal.
The 20-year-old, who is the World 1,500 meters champion, produced one of his trademark strong finishes to beat reigning Olympic champion, Park Taehwan and set a new Olympic record of 3.40, 14 and punched the air with joy after ending the race, speaking to the press afterwards.
Sun Yang of China celebrates after winning men's swimming 400m Freestyle Final competition at London 2012 Olympic Games in London, Britain, on July 28, 2012. Sun Yang won gold medal in this event. [Photo/Xinhua]
"Today I have won gold, I am very happy; this medal is significant for me because it is reward for all of these years of effort. I did well," said Sun in his post-race press conference.
Sun had shown his emotion and cried after winning his gold medal and he explained the outburst of emotion, by saying he had been under a lot of pressure and felt the expectations of the Chinese people.
"All Chinese people wanted me to be on the podium today: we were all upset when I didn't win in Shanghai, If I cried, it is because I have worked hard. I get up early and go to bed late," he said.
However, Sun wanted to dedicate his win to someone special: his coach Denis Cotterell.
"This is a reward for me and my coach, who will need an operation when we return. He is going through pain to be with me," he explained, adding a personal dimension to the victory.
"My parents were also here, they are great and they gave me so much. I want to thank them all," said Sun.
There was some controversy following the qualifying heats for the race when Park had been disqualified following a supposed false start, only to be reinstated in the final following an appeal.
Park had tried to say what happened had not affected his performance, but clearly believed the uncertainty had an effect on his race, saying, "because of the unfortunate disqualification it was hard to get a good time in the final. I wanted to do my best when I was on the start line, 1.42 is not a good time for me."
However, Park was also gracious in his praise of Sun.
"Many Asian racers are getting stronger, especially in the medium to long races, I believe Sun Yang is very strong, he is really a good swimmer and he is a great candidate to win the 1,500 meters," he said. "In that race you focus more on endurance to win."
For his part, Sun believes Park being allowed to race gave his win greater credibility.
"I think that if Park had not been in the final and I had won without it, many Koreans could have said the gold was not so rewarding. I was not annoyed when he was allowed in the race. I think it was a better challenge for me that he was in the final," said the Chinese swimmer.