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Sun Slips Then Shines On 14:31.02WR

Aug 4, 2012

Olympic Games, London, Day 8 finals:

Men's 1500m freestyle: 

Sun Yang slipped off his blocks after an idiot in the crowd made a loud (whistling) noise; after surfacing he slapped the water in frustration, climbed out and thought he was gone under the one-start rule. They let him back in; good spirit, but not what the rule book says ought to happen.

The crowd, large swatches of it floating on a  sea of Chinese flags, wanted their hero back on his blocks. They got their wish and their hero delivered: a world record of 14:31.02 sealed the gold. 

Sun, who had raced inside his own record pace by about 2sec for most of the race, leapt on the lane line, pointed at the crowd to folk barely visible behind Chinese flags fluttering wildly and then drove his fists in the water eight times - for love of the luck that brings (Beijing 2008 started on 08:08:08, the number one that delivers fortune in China perhaps) - and  then burst into tears, the emotion of the upset at the start of the race flowing from him.

In the wake of his pioneering swim came Ryan Cochrane, on a maiden voyage below 14:40 in a Canadian record of 14:39.63, the defending champion Oussama Mellouli (TUN) down but not out, on 14:40.31.

No Chinese man had ever won the crown, while Sun made history at the helm of the fastest 1500m field in Olympic history.

"I thought I was going to be disqualified," admitted Sun, who said he couldn't hear the starter properly over the crowd noise. "I didn't expect the false start and I was very worried about being disqualified."

"I have done well because I was in very good shape," he went on. "I really wanted this gold medal."

An elated Cochrane, who took the bronze in this event in Beijing, said he was happier at the end of this race than at any other time in his career. "It's nice that I could end my meet on a result where I know there was nothing else I could have left in the pool," he said. "There was no way I could have gone 31 today - I'm not saying it's not in myself to do that, but in that race today I was happy with my time."

As to whether he had been distracted by Sun's pre-race dip, he said, "No - it's a lot easier when you're not the one in the water - but I think I was pepared for anything at that point. They could have made us wait an hour and it wouldn't have mattered. no matter what, you're going to get in and swim. It comes with experience - maybe the first time around it would have been harder to deal with, but this time it was like, nothing's going to bother us!"

Mellouli will get another chance for gold when he races in the 10-kilometer open water event at Hyde Park.

More shortly.

London 2012

  • 1. Sun Yang (CHN) 14:31.02 world record
  • 2. Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 14:39.63 Canadian record
  • 3. Oussama Mellouli (TUN) 14:40.31

Beijing 2008:

  • 1. Oussama Mellouli (TUN) 14:40.84 
  • 2. Grant Hackett (AUS) 14:41.53
  • 3. Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 14:42.69

Fastest field: 14:31.02 - 15:00.76 London 2012

Comparison fields:

  • London 2012: 14:31.02 - 15:00.76
  • Beijing 2008: 14:40.84 - 15:05.12
  • Athens 2004: 14:43.40 - 15:13.66

To qualify for the final it took: 

  • 14:57.59 London 2012
  • 14:58.30 Shanghai 2011
  • 14:49.53 Beijing 2008