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Olympic champion Zhang eyes 100m butterfly gold at Paris 2024

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-03-12 09:34
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Zhang Yufei of China competes during the women's 100m butterfly final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on July 26, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - China's multiple Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Zhang Yufei has her eye on the 100m butterfly gold at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

"The 100m butterfly [gold] is what I expect the most. I hope to bring it back home," said Zhang, who won the women's 200m butterfly and 4x200m freestyle relay gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

Zhang, who also finished runner-up in the 100m butterfly and mixed 4x100m medley relay in Tokyo, expressed her confidence in China's strength in relay events.

"Looking back to what we did at the Tokyo Olympics, we can still improve on that in Paris," she explained.

"I need to help younger teammates mentally and improve their training level in these two years so that we can realize our dreams together."

Zhang added that she has high expectations for the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan in July and the Hangzhou Asian Games, two major competitions in 2023.

For her, winning the 200m butterfly at the worlds is the last piece of the puzzle in her attempt to sweep major honors in her career.

"Hopefully I can make it this time," she noted.

As for the Asian Games, Zhang said she not only expects to hear the cheer from the home crowd but also aims to win the tournament's Most Valuable Player award and break the 100m butterfly world record.

After becoming an Olympic champion, Zhang said she can vividly feel a change in her mentality over the past two years.

"For a period of time after the Tokyo Olympics, I was afraid of defeat, which brought a huge burden for me. I could not accept that I settled for silver," she admitted.

"But after the short-course world championships at the end of last year, I felt that my winning mentality was always there but I was no longer afraid of defeat.

"I has set a goal for every tournament. As long as I reach that goal and gain experience from the tournament, I can settle for whatever result I get. After all, the Olympic Games is my ultimate goal," she added.

Zhang, a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), is currently attending the annual "two sessions" in Beijing.

The 24-year-old elite swimmer says she hopes younger teammates can step up and shoulder their responsibilities for China, and that more youths enjoy and engage in sports.

"Hopefully they can be more interested in sports and more willing to practice it so that they benefit from it physically," she said.

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