Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Sun crowned 'freestyle king' with golden treble

2013-08-05 09:55

By (Xinhua)

BEIJING - Chinese star swimmer Sun Yang has become the new king of distance freestyle swimming as he completed a hat-trick of world titles after winning the 1,500m final with a commanding performance at the world championships on Sunday.

Sun crowned 'freestyle king' with golden treble

Winner Sun Yang of China reacts after the men's 800m freestyle final during the World Swimming Championships at the Sant Jordi arena in Barcelona July 31, 2013.[Photo/Xinhua]

Sun collected the 400m, 800m and 1,500 free golds at Barcelona, matching a feat previously achieved only by Australian Grant Hackett in the 2005 Montreal Worlds.

On Sunday, the 21-year-old won the final in 14 minutes 41.15 seconds, with Canada's Ryan Cochrane 1.33 seconds back for silver and Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri 4.22 adrift in third.

"I just tried to convince myself to stay as close to Cochrane as possible because I knew I could go faster in the last 100m," said Sun, who kissed his fist after winning the final.

Sun was the biggest favorite of the event. He became the leading light of Chinese swimming when he tore up Grant Hackett's 10-year-old 1,500m record at the 2011 Shanghai Worlds - a mark he lowered again at the Olympics.

He admitted that a disruptive year in which he changed coach meant he wasn't in the best condition to break the record for a third consecutive major championships.

"This is a very difficult gold medal for me. I felt very tired in the first 1,000m," he said.

"After the Olympics I had to overcome a lot of problems, but I have come back and learned a lot through this process," he said. "My training was not systematic and that is why I was not in condition for a world record."

Sun rocketed to join basketball giant Yao Ming and tennis queen Li Na as Chinese sports icons after winning two golds at the 2012 London Games, but he went through a difficult year after the Games.

After dating an air hostess since returning from London, Sun has been struggling to balance his romance and and career, which led to a huge fall-out between Sun and his long-time mentor Zhu Zhigen.

Despite gestures of reconciliation in March from both sides, Sun still asked to leave Zhu, with whom he had trained for 10 years and worked with former Chinese head coach Zhang Yadong.

"Training alone was an unforgettable situation. It was a difficult time. I had to do everything by myself. I have trained hard every hour of every day and I want to get better results," Sun said, choking with emotion.

All the switches led to questions over Sun's form, and at one point the Chinese team wanted him to skip 800m at this meet. But Sun was also entered in the 800m free, plus the 4x200 free relay. The freesytle specialist soon proved it was a right decision.

Sun repeated his feat from the London Games with a commanding swim in the 400m free as he touched in an impressive time of 3:41.59 last Sunday, almost 2.5 seconds ahead of Japan's Kosuke Hagina. It was also a new world fastest time of the year.

After winning the men's 400m free, Sun burst into tears and thanked both Zhu and Zhang. Sun also said he had never denied Zhu's efforts but he wanted a new training style.

He then became only the second man to have defended his gold medal in the 800m free at the World Championships when he swam to a comfortable victory on Wednesday with a world leading time 7:41.36.

Sun's most incredible performance in Barcelona was in the men's 4X200m freestyle relay Friday. He was fifth when he got into the water, but produced the best split of the race to swim his final leg in 1:43.96 and give China a miraculous bronze medal.

The time was even faster than Frenchman Yannick Agnel's winning time at the 200m freestyle final, which was 1:44.20.

Zhu Zhigen expressed his willingness to be back with Sun Saturday.

"Sun is still a child and he needs time to grow up," said Zhu, who helped Sun to win two golds at the 2012 London Games.

"I always care about him and I hope he can understand me. I have never thought of giving up.

"Sun communicated with me before and after every race," Zhu said. "I told him that sunshine always comes after the rain and my door is always open to him."

Previous Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next Page