Shining Sun cruises to gold

Updated: 2013-07-30 08:12

By Agencies in Barcelona (China Daily)

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 Shining Sun cruises to gold

Sun Yang reacts after winning the 400m freestyle final at the world championships in Barcelona on Sunday. Albert Gea / Reuters

Shining Sun cruises to gold

Chinese star completes full set of freestyle titles with 400m win

Sun Yang never really exerted himself until he got out of the pool.

After winning the 400-meter freestyle Sunday night by a massive 3.23 seconds, the 1.98- meter Chinese swimmer flexed to show off his stomach muscles, giant arms and huge shoulders.

In the opening pool event of the world championships, the Olympic champion had no challengers.

Sun touched in 3 min, 41.59 sec, about three body lengths ahead of Kosuke Hagino of Japan, who won what was really a race for second.

The 18-year-old Hagino edged Connor Jaeger of the US by 0.03 sec for silver.

"I had a pretty good time for me because I don't have a major challenger here," said Sun, who won two golds, a silver and a bronze at last year's London Games. "If I had had one, I would have gone a lot faster."

Park Tae-hwan of South Korea, who won the 400 at the 2008 Beijing Games and finished second to Sun in London, is skipping this meet. And so is world record holder Paul Biedermann.

Biedermann set the mark of 3:40.07 at the 2009 worlds at the height of the rubberized suit era.

Sun came within 0.07 of Biedermann's mark in London but this time he didn't have to push that hard. Still, the resounding victory was impressive considering the tumult Sun has faced in recent months.

After the Olympics, Sun reduced his ties with Australian mentor Denis Cotterell. Then his Chinese coach, Zhu Zhigen, publicly criticized him for not training enough and performing too many commercial activities.

Sun and Zhu briefly split then announced in March that they were back together again. But then Sun went last month to train in Hong Kong under former China national team head coach Zhang Yadong.

All the switches led to questions over Sun's form, and at one point the Chinese team wanted him to swim fewer events at this meet. But Sun is also entered in the 800 and 1,500 free, plus the 4x200 free relay.

Sun, through a translator, thanked Zhang and Zhu and his parents.

"Over the last year I experienced many things and I still won my gold medal," he said.

Sun proved he has few peers in the distance freestyle events on Sunday,

With his 400m win the 21-year-old completed the set of major titles in the event, 12 months after winning the Olympic crown.

Just as he did in the London 2012 final, the Chinese dominated early in Barcelona to add the 400m world title to the 800m and 1,500m freestyle golds he won two years ago in Shanghai

"The 400m is a very important event and I completed my goal," said Sun.

"I overcame many problems and proved myself, I hope to have an even better performance in my other events," he said as he prepares to start the defense of his 800m title in Tuesday's heats.

Sun capped a bright start on the first of the eight-day long championships for China as Ye Shiwen eased into the women's 200m individual medley final.

The 17-year-old Ye, who won 200 and 400m IM Olympic gold medals last year, sparked controversy when she swam the final leg of her 400m triumph in a faster time than men's winner Ryan Lochte at London 2012.

Defending champion Ye was the second quickest qualifier, just over half a second behind Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, the fastest out of Sunday's 200m IM semifinals.

(China Daily 07/30/2013 page22)