Yeah! She Won
Updated: 2012-08-02 07:38:31
By Sun Xiaochen in London ( China Daily)
Cloaked in the national flag, Ye Shiwen leaves the pool after scooping a second gold medal in the 200m individual medley on Tuesday in London. FAN JUN / XINHUA
Swimming prodigy smiles in the face of adversity as world hails a new star
Olympic champions have to have guts, determination, belief and grace under pressure, qualities that are also needed to face the slings and arrows of false accusations.
Swimming prodigy Ye Shiwen has these qualities in abundance.
Ye, 16, should be basking in triumph as China's first double gold medalist swimmer at an Olympics following sensational victories in both the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys.
Instead, she has had to encounter snide comments and allegations in the wake of her success.
Ye can handle both the bouquets and brickbats and will not let any unfounded allegations dampen her justifiable pride.
Back home, Ye has won the hearts of millions with her stunning performance and ready smile.
On weibo, people pointed out that her name suits her very well: "Yeah, she won".
"The allegations are a little bit unfair, but I am not affected by them at all," Ye said, employing modest understatement, after breaking the Olympic record to win the 200m individual medley in 2 min and 7.57 sec on Tuesday.
Since shattering the world record for the 400m individual medley with an eye-catching last-leg freestyle sprint on Saturday, Ye has been put under the microscope, with pundits alleging that her last 50 meters of 28.93 sec, faster than US swimmer Ryan Lochte's equivalent in the male event, could only be explained by drug use.
John Leonard, the head of the American Swimming Coaches Association, but not a member of the US Olympic staff, told The Guardian that "every time we see something ... 'unbelievable', history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved".
When asked if she thought the allegations were rooted in bias against China, Ye replied: "It's possible."
"Nobody ever suspected other countries' multigold winners. Why doubt me? I just won two," she said.
Ye's counterpart Sun Yang, who also made history by being China's first male gold medalist swimmer after winning the 400m freestyle, was quick to offer his support.
The doubt is unfair and does not take account of the effort involved, he said.
The Americans can win many gold medals without being questioned, but we can't, he added.
Ye was tested and cleared by the authorities.
Colin Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, told a news conference on Tuesday that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conducted a test on Ye and it was clean.
"She's been through WADA's program and she's clean. That's the end of the story. Ye deserves recognition for her talent," he said.
China's anti-doping chief revealed Chinese athletes have undergone nearly 100 drug tests since arriving in London, and not a single one has tested positive.
"Ye's great talent was recognized at an early age and her performance vindicates her," Xu Qi, head of the Chinese swimming team, told Xinhua News Agency. "Don't use your suspicions to knock down others."
Ye attributed her rise to what every great athlete attributes their rise to, hard work.
Ye underwent grueling training in Brisbane, Australia with two renowned coaches Dennis Cotterell and Ken Wood after last year's Shanghai Worlds.
Ye said she normally spent five hours every day in the pool for nine years and in Australia she was able to fine-tune her stroke efficiency, starting and turning.
Cotterell, Australian distance swimmer Grant Hackett's mentor, said Ye had "unparalleled gifts".
"She's a little girl with a lot of strength and power. She may even get better given that she's improved a lot in Australia," Cotterell told China Central Television on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Brazil's freestyle sprinter Cesar Cielo, who won the 50m free at the Beijing Olympics, believed Ye's last 50m achievement is easily explained.
"I think it's possible (for a woman to outperform a man in last leg sprint)," Cielo told China Daily.
"She's 16. I think she can swim fast because the structure of her body really makes a lot of difference in terms of speed."
With all eyes on Ye's incredible-fast last sprint, many may fail to realize that her world-record time was still 23 seconds slower than Lochte's winning time, and many other male swimmers were faster than Ye over the final 50m.
Ye started swimming at the age of six after her kindergarten teacher noticed she had much larger hands and feet than other children. Drafted into the national team three years ago, Ye made her first splash at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games by bagging 200m and 400m in the individual medley before hitting international headlines at last year's Worlds, where she won the 200m.
The US team women's head coach Teri Mckeever said people questioned Ye's results out of context (of her previous races).
"Unfortunately, some people just jump to conclusions when they see something they think was impossible," she said. "It's not like we haven't seen her before, she's won a world championship."
Michael Phelps' coach Bob Bowman said performances like Ye's do happen.
"One of the interesting things about swimming is people don't swim the same way," Bowman was quoted as saying by AP.
"They have to swim the way their body is made, so that's what she's doing. She's taking advantage of her size of (hands and feet).
"The girl has good technique. She had an amazing last 100, but people do amazing things sometimes," he added.
Support from Bowman is a great motivation for Ye, who regards Phelps as her idol. She hopes to emulate his achievements.
"He's been a model for me for many years. I hope I can win as many medals as he did but all I can do is to try my best," Ye said.
(China Daily 08/02/2012 page1)