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SwimNews.com - Craig Lord: China: Relay Focus & A Few Anomalies
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China: Relay Focus & A Few Anomalies

Jul 12, 2012  - Craig Lord

The names of China's team of 27 women and 24 men, 51 in all, for London 2012 have been confirmed, with a handful of anomalies in the mix.

With 52 places allowed per team, China's omission of Zhang Lin stands out, along with that of world No3 and China No 2 this season Gong Jie, on 2:05.38 over 200m butterfly in April but having to give way to China No3 this season, Liu Zige, 2008 Olympic champion and world record holder. 

World No 3 over 200m butterfly this season and the second fastest in China in 2012, Gong Jie, whose 2:05.38 would have made the Games for any other nation but Liu Zige, 10th on 2:07.37 so far this season, makes the team as reigning Olympic champion and podium placer at the Shanghai 2012 world championships last year. The global crown went to China No1 of the past two years, Olympic silver medallist Jiao Liuyang, 0.04sec ahead of Britain's Ellen Gandy.

Gandy is based in Australia, while Jiao is also based there some of the time. In January, she was to be found clocking 4:10.77 over 400m freestyle at the Miami meet on the Gold Coast. Gong is also No 4 in the 100m in China. The top three in that event all have a place on the team, Jiao and Liu racing in the wake of Lu Ying, on 57.48, at nationals back in April.

Where Liu Zige was able to be well below best at nationals, Zhang was shown no mercy. The first Chinese man ever to win a world title in swimming, over 800m in 2009 after having claimed China's first Olympic swimming medal among men the year before, over 400m freestyle, and the second in history to claim a world record - Zhang was far from being the only one back at nationals in April who was down on his best. 

In 2011 at a home world championships in Shanghai, he was the swiftest in the heats of the 4x200m for China at world titles last year and second only to Sun Yang on the clock in the final as China claimed leap-frogged several nations they had never beaten before to claim an historic bronze. He is the only one of the Shanghai relay crew to have been left out of London 2012 action. 

Also given an automatic ticket as world champion in 2011 is Zhao Jing, on 59.05 over 100m at Shanghai 2011, and this season managing a best of 1:01.75 so far. Expect her to be somewhat quicker in London. Also selected as 100m backstroke aces are Fu Yuanhui (1996 born and on 59.99 as national champion in April, and silver-medallist and seasoned international Gao Chang.

In 200m, China's season No1, on 2:09.71, Yu Yaping, has no place on the team. Zhao clocked 2:08.86 in semis at world titles last year, while the best in China over the past two years is a 2:08.62 by Zhu Jiani, for whom there is also no place in London. Bai Anqui, who is selected, had a 2011 best of 2:09.75, this year 2:10.05. That left her second at trials, while the No 3 in that race, 1996-born Yao Yige, on 2:10.22, makes the China London 2012 team. She is a 1:02.09 100m swimmer.

There is also no place on the squad for China No1 in the women's 50m free, Yin Fan; Shen Duo, 4th in 100m free at nationals (but no relay place); and Xheng Rongrong, No2 in the women's 200m medley on 2:12.18 at nationals in April. Among men, missing from the list is 200m breaststroke national champion Li Xiang, on 2:11.67 in April but left off the Olympic team, if the published list of names is correct; while the No 3 at nationals is also not among those named, Lai Zhongjian on 2:12.45, 0.25sec ahead of London 2012 team member Huang Yunkun, 100m No2, in April.

The team mystery, Fang Yanqiao, is a mystery no more: just one swimmer of that name listed among the best 300 in any event over the past 20 years. She was born 1989, making her 23 this year. Between 2003 and 2006, aged 14 to 17, she registered the following best times:

  • 400 free: 4:19.67
  • 800 free: 8:54.68
  • 1500m fr: 17:10.86
  • 200 back: 2:17.97
  • 200m IM: 2:17.94

She appears in 2007 as a 2:03.98 200m freestyle swimmer, and again in 2009 as a 4:17.60 and 8:41.10, 400/800 swimmer. Her best 800m in 2010 was 8:53.04. She has no time registered in any event in either 2011 or 2012. Yet her name appears on the team roster for the London 2012 Olympic Games. An error? No - a marathon swimmer, in the 10km after qualification in Setubal. A pool swimmer reborn as a 10km prospect.

The team numbers are swelled by China's focus on relays, with eight women in line for the 4x200m freestyle and three possibles for the medley relay in at least three strokes.

The China squad for London 2012:

Women: 

  • Bai Anqi (China No2 200m backstroke)
  • Chen Qian (China No 8 200m freestyle)
  • Fang Yanqiao (we will have to wait and see)
  • Fu Yuanhui (1996 born - 59.99 national champion 100 back)
  • Gao Chang (China No2/3 100 back)
  • Ji Liping (China No3 100 breast 1:07.90, No2 200m, 2:26)
  • Jiao Liuyang (world champion 200m butterfly and medal contender 100m)
  • Li Jiaxing (200IM No 3, 2:13.17 but preferred over No 2, who has no place) 
  • Li Xuanxu (China No1 400m medley)
  • Liu Jing (China No7 200 free)
  • Liu Xiaoyu (China No2 100 breast 1:07.88)
  • Liu Zige (Olympic champion and world record holder 200m butterfly)
  • Lu Ying (China No1 100m fly, 57.48)
  • Pang Jiaying (Relays: 100m and 200m free)
  • Qiu Yuhan (China No2 100 free, 55.04)
  • Shao Yiwen (China No1 400m free, 4:05.88; No2 800m, 8:29.49)
  • Song Wenyan (China No3 200m; 1:57.84)
  • Sun Ye (China No1 100m and 200m breaststroke - 1:07.30, 2:24.54)
  • Tang Yi (China No1 100m free 53.71; No 2 200m free, 1:57.74)
  • Wang Haibing (4x100 free relay)
  • Wang Shijia (China No1 200m free, 1:57.26; 6th in 100 free at trials)
  • Xin Xin (China No2 400m free, 4:05.93; No1 800m, 8:22.76)
  • Yao Yige (China No3 200 back)
  • Ye Shiwen (World champion 200m medley, fastest ever in textile on 2:08.90; China No2 400IM)
  • Zhao Jin (China No4 100 breast, 1:07.99)
  • Zhao Jing (world champion 100m backstroke, 2011)
  • Zhu Qianwei (China No4 200m freestyle, 1:58.08)

Men: 

  • Chen Cheng (100, 200m breaststroke - 1:01.12; 2:11.76)
  • Chen Weiwu (100m and 200m fly - 52.51; 1:57.96)
  • Chen Yin (1:56.14 over 200 fly at trials, China No2)
  • Chen Zuo  (48.73 best 100 free but 8th at nationals in 50.30)
  • Cheng Feiyi (53.87, 1:58.36, 100-200m backs)
  • Dai Jun (6th in 200 free at nationals) 
  • Hao Yun (1995-born 1:47.48 200 free; 400 free 3:45.69; 14:58.44 1500)
  • He Jianbin (100 back, 54.25; 49.90 100 free, for relay)
  • Huang Yunkun (1:01.07; 2:12.70, 200 breaststroke - 23 and arrived in 2011 with bests of 1:02.48 and 2:15.02)
  • Jiang Haiqi (not at his best so far this year so far, on 50.28 and 1:48.69 over 100 and 200 free)
  • Li Xiayan (China No 1, 1:01.06 100 breast)
  • Li Yunqi (China No2 400 free, 3:45.49; 1:48.17 200m - but 1:47.02 last October)
  • Lu Zhiwu (49.47, 13th best of his career 100 free this year and 1st sub 1:50 ever, 1:48.69 over 200; 22.69 No2 50 free)
  • Shi Yang (China No1, 50 free, 22.51)
  • Shi Tengfei (50.05, China No4 100 free)
  • Sun Yang (world champion and record holder 1500m; medal contender 200, 400m, 4x200m)
  • Wang Shun (18 - 2:00.59, 4:17.92 on medley - after 1:58.56 and 4:11.61 last year; no free times this year; a 14:56.92 1500 and 49.78 100 swimmer) 
  • Wang Chengxiang (19 - 4:11.89 last year, 4:12.02, 400IM)
  • Wu Peng (US-based medal contender, 200m butterfly)
  • Xu Jiayu (1995-born, 1:58.27 200 back, after 2:00.69 last year)
  • Yang Zhixian (China No1, 4:11.92 400IM)
  • Zhang Enjian (1st sub-50 100 free this year, 49.92 - a 15:15.88 1500m swimmer at 18 six years ago)
  • Zhang Fenglin (1:57.39 200 back, after 1:56.34 last year)
  • Zhou Jiawei (China No1 100 fly, on 52.26)