Sports / Team China

Sun plays down Japanese anthem spat

By Sun Xiaochen in Incheon, South Korea ( Updated: 2014-09-26 21:25

Sun Yang claimed on Friday that post-race comments about the Japanese national anthem attributed to him were misinterpreted and he didn't mean to tarnish the image of his opponent's country.

"I didn't say that ‘which country ('s anthem) is bad or not'. I just expressed my wish to always hear my country's national anthem being played at the poolside. I didn't mean to identify any country ('s anthem) as ugly. There must be some misunderstanding," Sun said of the controversy caused by his comments after his team's 4x100m freestyle relay victory over Japan on Wednesday.

According to an Agence France-Presse story, Sun told media in the mixed zone after the race that he felt the Japanese national anthem sounded "unpleasant".

He also won the men's 1,500m freestyle gold in 14 min, 49.75 sec, 18.73 seconds slower than his world record time at the 2012 London Olympics.

Before Sun's explanation, the AFP story had stirred disputes and criticism of Sun in international media, but the Japanese press remained restrained.

"I don't care too much about whether Sun said something referring to the anthem or not. If he really did, I don't think he meant it or maybe it's just translated in an improper way," said Masahiro Ura, a Japanese freelance photographer covering the Asian Games.

Sun denied that the hype surrounding his comments put extra pressure on his shoulders before the 1,500m freestyle final.

"I didn't worry about it. I am confident about my strength in this event," said Sun, who collected gold in the 400m and 1,500m freestyle events as well as the 4x100m freestyle relay at the Incheon Games.

"I am quite happy that I could improve my 1,500m result by almost 12 seconds from my last race (the National Championships in Qingdao, Shandong province in May). It's just a few months and I am satisfied with my progress in catching up my speed".

Boasting an improvement in his sprint-event ability, Sun, who had to settle for silver in the 200m freestyle in Incheon, envisions a clean sweep of freestyle titles from 200m to 1,500m at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia next year.

"I aim to defend my titles at 400m, 800m and 1,500m and will try my best to win the 200m as a makeup for this time," he said.

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