Video courtesy of Ye Zhu.
16-year-old Li Bingjie is looking to make her mark on the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, mirroring teammate Sun Yang‘s stacked schedule of racing the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle events. Li is ranked in the top 5 in the world in both the 400m and 1500m freestyle races with the 4:01.75 and 15:52.87 season-bests already produced in the lead-up to these Games. Her time of 4:01.75, seen in the video above, checked-in as a new Chinese national and Asian continental record for the emerging ace when she threw it down at last September’s China Games.
Prior to that, Li took home 2 individual medals from the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. The teen won silver in the 800m freestyle and bronze in the 400m freestyle, while also taking silver as a member of her nation’s 4x200m freestyle relay.
However, another 16-year-old Chinese woman in the form of Wang Jianjiahe is ready to rumble and take on her domestic rival in Jakarta. Wang is ranked 5th in the world in both the 400m and 800m with respective times of 4:03.14 and 8:18.09, while she sits 4th in the 1500m with her season-best of 15:53.01.
With the pair so closely linked together times-wise, we’ll be looking for some intense freestyle battles to take place in the middle of the pool come the competition in Indonesia. That was the scene in April at the Chinese Spring Nationals, where Wang beat Bingjie in the 1500m free. Though Wang didn’t top Li’s time of 15:52.87 from last September, she did go 15:53.01 to move to #2 in the world and beat Li’s 15:58.29 for the national title.
The duo’s weakest event is the 200m free, where Japan’s Rikako Ikee looks primed to take the Asian Games title after blasting a new personal best and Asian Record of 1:54.85 en route to silver behind Canada’s Taylor Ruck at the recent Pan Pacific Championships. Ikee’s teammate Chihiro Igarashi finished 7th in that race and will look to carry Ikee’s momentum into Jakarta. Additionally, China’s Zhang Yuhan and Quiu Yuhan are viable minor medal contenders in the 200m free event.