China's youngest swimming world champ eyes Olympic gold
Updated: 2011-10-21 10:30
Ye Shiwen from Hangzhou city swims to her victory in the women's 200m individual medley finals at the 7th Chinese National City Games in Nanchang, East China's Jiangxi province, Oct 20, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
NANCHANG, China - Ye Shiwen is already China's youngest ever (long-course) swimming world champion, but the 15-year-old girl has an even more ambitious goal.
With the 2012 London Olympics looming, Ye hopes that she could add to her biography soon another item - the country's youngest Olympic title-holding swimmer.
"Every athlete wants to become an Olympic champion. And, of course, I am no exception," Ye told reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing 7th Chinese National City Games, a quadrennial event held for athletes aged under 20 and seen as a seedbed for future Olympians.
Ye won the women's 400 individual medley Monday night with a scorching fast time - 4 minutes 33.66 seconds, standing second only to Elizabeth Beisel's 4:31.78 this year. That effort bettered Ye's 4:35.15 from the world championships in Shanghai in July, and clipped Ye's personal best of 4:33.79 set as the Asian Games last November. She remains 10th in the all-time rankings behind Yana Klochkova's 4:33.59 from 2000.
But, in the 200m individual medley, in which she was the reigning world champion, Ye clocked in 2 minutes 10.01 seconds, well off her top-ranked time of 2:08.90 from the Worlds.
"I need to work on my breaststroke and butterfly skills," said Ye.
Ye Shiwen from Hangzhou city swims to her victory in the women's 400m individual medley finals at the 7th Chinese National City Games in Nanchang, East China's Jiangxi province, Oct 20, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
Freestyle is considered Ye's leathal weapon as it was her freestyle that made the difference in the Shanghai Worlds. The much talked teenager, on a 29.42 freestyle anchor, won the 200 IM in 2:08.90 to become the first woman under 2:09 in textile, beating a star-studded field including defending champion and world record holder Ariana Kukors and Australia's Olympic champion Stephanie Rice.
Ye took only one day off after the Worlds and had a 50-day training spell in Australia before heading for the National City Games.
"The training days in Australia were really harsh, but it was really helpful," she said.
Ye started swimming after her kindergarten teacher noticed she had large hands, which is an added advantage in the sport. In 2007, she made it to the Zhejiang provincial swimming team and the following year she was selected to the national team.
Ye Shiwen (C) from Hangzhou city poses after winning a gold medal in the women's 200m individual medley finals at the 7th Chinese National City Games in Nanchang, East China's Jiangxi province, Oct 20, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]