Young Chinese swimmer lives up to expectations by winning 800m
SHANGHAI – There were no tears, just a calm celebration as a more mature Sun Yang was finally crowned world champion on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Sun, the 1,500m Asian Games champion, won his first world champion title by leading all the way and clocking 7 minutes, 38.57 seconds at the 14th FINA World Championships in the 800m free here.
Canada’s Ryan Cochrane, who stayed close through the first 600m, won the silver in 7:41.86 and Gergo Kis of Hungary took the bronze in 7:44.94.
“I’m very happy with today’s performance. It’s my first (worlds) gold medal and it’s also my personal best result in the event,” said Sun, who won bronze in the men’s 1,500m freestyle at the Rome World Championships two years ago.
“I fully prepared for this 800m event and I followed my own beat for the full race.”
Considered China’s leading hope on the men’s side, Sun failed to shine in his opening event, the 400m freestyle, winning a silver medal behind archrival Park Tae-hwan of South Korea.
“In the 400m, my rhythm was disturbed by Park, so we summed up that experience after the race and made a full preparation for the 800m,” said Sun.
“A medal in the 400m was satisfactory as my favorite events are the 800m and 1,500m. I’m younger than Park. For the 400m, I should have a better chance than him at the 2012 London Olympics.”
At the Guangzhou Asian Games last November, Sun, who claimed one gold medal and two silvers in individual events, was in tears after nearly all of his races, which drew criticism from some of the local media, which regarded it as a sign of immaturity.
After his victory at the Shanghai worlds, Sun was a picture of calmness.
“I grew up a lot through the Guangzhou Asian Games,” he said. “When I touched the wall today I was really excited, but I still have more events to compete in over the following days. I have to stay calm.
“This world champion title won’t change me. I will still be myself.”
At the 2009 Rome World Championships, Sun’s senior teammate, Zhang Lin, won the event in a world-record time of 7:32.12, becoming China’s first male swimming world champion. Zhang gave up the chance to defend his title in Shanghai as he is out of the shape at the moment.
As the new star of the team, Sun is now drawing comparisons with Zhang. But he does not want to be called the “new team leader”.
“There is no need to compare me with anyone else. I’m Sun Yang,” he said.
“As the first male Chinese world champion, Zhang encouraged me a lot. I also desired to win for China and now I have done it.”
Sun will strive for his second world title in the 1,500m freestyle on Sunday.