Top-performing Sun Yang excluded from top-athlete voting

Updated: 2013-11-23 11:07


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Top-performing Sun Yang excluded from top-athlete voting

Sun Yang wins the Best Athlete Awards at the 2012 CCTV Sports Personality Awarding Ceremony in Beijing on Jan 19, 2013 file photo. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - Double Olympic champion swimmer Sun Yang was excluded from the voting for China's top athlete despite a successful record which includes three world championships titles.

Sun isn't on a list of 146 candidates selected on Thursday to run for the prestigious CCTV Sports Awards. The organizers, China Central Television, announced that they "valued professionalism over athletic performance".

Sun, who claimed men's 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle world titles and went on to bag five gold medals in the National Games, was caught driving without a license in a car accident in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province early this month.

Apart from a seven-day detention and a fine of 2,000 yuan (about $328) by Hangzhou police, he has also been suspended from all the competitions and national team's training and commercial activities.

"Sun Yang is an outstanding athlete but he failed to behave professionally outside the swimming pool," said CCTV sports chief Jiang Heping. "Most selectors on the panel decided not to accept him as a candidate."

Sun Yang has been at the center of unwanted attention now and then since he became China's first ever male Olympic swimming champion and broke the 1,500 freestyle world record in the London Games.

It was reported early this year that Sun had a strained relationship with his long-time mentor Zhu Zhigen while struggling to balance his romance and career.

Zhejiang College of Sports, to which the Olympic champion is affiliated, disclosed that "Sun refused to return to the team after holiday and he was unreachable until the car accident took place".

The college also said Sun even went to Thailand for a trip without team approval.

"I am deeply sorry for what I have done and will reflect on my behavior," Sun apologized for the accident on Weibo, a Chinese equivalent to Twitter.

Sun was named the top male athlete by CCTV in 2011 and 2012 and won the newcomer award in 2010.

It seems CCTV picked out Sun as the only bad apple. Zhang Jike, the Olympic table tennis champion who was seriously criticized by the national team for disobeying rules, is on the list.

The list also includes reformed short-track speedskater and Olympic champion Wang Meng, who had once been suspended from the national team for her drunken brawl with a team manager.

Fiery-tempered tennis player Li Na, former French Open winner, is running for the top female athlete award, while her Argentine coach Carlos Rodriguez is considered for the best coach voting.

Rodriguez is unlikely to beat Italian coach Marcello Lippi, who has led Guangzhou Evergrande to the Chinese league title and AFC Champions League crown.

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