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Sun Shrugs Off Row With Sub-3:43 Win

Apr 1, 2013  - Craig Lord

Olympic 400 and 1500m free champion Sun Yang roared to the helm of the 2013 world rankings with a  3:42.93 victory over 400m on the first day of China nationals in Zhengzhou today.  The race marked his first since he set aside disagreement with his coach Zhu Zhigen and made a return to top-level training. The time, the 7th best of Sun's career, suggests he was never really away.

The row with his coach was over the time Sun was taking for his new girlfriend and leisure away from training in the wake of London 2012. Zhu thought Sun's love life had knocked the swimmer's commitment; Sun called for Zhu to be fired; the training centre told Sun that he would be the one who would have to go not the coach.

All water under the bridge: a 3:42.93 effort puts Sun - closest ever to Ian Thorpe's textile work mark and the best ever without a body suit with his 3:40.14 win in London - in the frame for gold at Barcelona 2013 world titles. China has strength behind its front line among men these days: Hao Yun, from Hebei, took silver in 3:46:91, Li Yunqi, of Henan, bronze in 3:47.15. The whole final was home in 3:54.44.

"I am just 70 to 80 percent of my best level," Sun told Xinhua. "My coach knows me better and I hope I can do better in the World Championships. As you know I just resumed training for a few days, so I think the result is OK. I am still dealing with my shoulder injuries. I swam about 20,000m a day, so my shoulders are always in bad condition."

The women's 400m free went to Shao Yiwen, from Zhejiang, in 4:06.16, the minor spoils claimed by Xu Danlu, 4:09.43, and Shen Junjie, Zhejiang, 4:09.66. Liaoning clocked 3:39.70 to win the 4x100m free for women ahead of Shanghai, 3:40.66, and Beijing, 3:41.28.

In the men's 4x100m free relay, team Beijing won the gold in 3:17.92, while the women's relay title was claimed by team Liaoning in 3:39.70.

Olympic champion Ye Shiwen will race in lane 4 for the final of the 200m medley and Lu Ying in lane 4 of the 100m butterfly tomorrow after they topped the semis today. Olympic champions of 2012, Jiao Liuyang, and 2008, Liu Zige, followed Lu into the 'fly final.

Day 1 results at a glance:

  • Men
  • 400m freestyle
  • 1. Sun Yang, Zhejiang, 3:42.96 seconds; 2. Hao Yun, Hebei, 3:46.92; 3. Li Yunqi, Henan, 3:47.15; 4. Zhang Jie, Shanghai, 3:51.85.
  • 4x100m freestyle relay: 1. Beijing, 3:17.92; 2. Liaoning, 3:18.91; 3. Guangdong, 3:19.95
  • Women
  • 400m freestyle: 1. Shao Yiwen, Zhejiang, 4:06.15; 2. Xu Danlu, Ningxia, 4:09.43; 3. Shen Junjie, Zhejiang, 4:09.66; 4. Zhang Wenqian, Shandong, 4:10.12
  • 4x100m freestyle relay: 1. Liaoning, 3:39.70; 2. Shanghai, 3:40.66; 3. Beijing, 3:41.28; 4. Guangdong, 3:41.46.