SWIMMING AT THE 2018 ASIAN GAMES
Chinese Olympic icon Sun Yang earned his 3rd individual gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games tonight in Jakarta, Indonesia, but the 26-year-old’s initial win from day 1 was perhaps his most emotional. Sun finally earned his elusive 200m freestyle Asian Games gold after having fallen short in the past two editions of the prestigious quadrennial event.
In 2010, it was Korea’s Park Tae Hwan who topped the men’s 200m free podium, while Japan’s Kosuke Hagino got the job done in 2014. This time around, however, Sun was on a mission; one in which he succeeded with a winning effort of 1:45.43, his 2nd fastest time of the season.
Post-race, Sun stated, “For eight years, from Guangzhou 2010 until now, I have been waiting for this gold medal in 200m at the Asian Games. Not many swimmers could have waited for eight years in three Asian Games like me. My dream has finally come true. I am very excited.” (The Jakarta Post)
The race was rather flawless in the pool, but Sun did run into a snag while on the podium. As the nations’ flags were being hoisted during the awards ceremony, a mechanical glitch in the raising apparatus caused the 3 flags to come crashing to the ground. Immediately, a disappointed Sun rushed over to organizers and insisted that his national anthem be started back from the beginning, while an honor guard physically held the national flags.
However, the flag debacle wasn’t the only podium incident with Sun Yang that’s causing a stir. During that same 200m free medal ceremony, it was noted that Sun was not wearing the Chinese national team podium uniform, but was instead wearing his own personal sponsor’s outfit. The ‘Anta’ brand is what the Chinese athletes are contractually required to wear when standing on the podium, but Sun was wearing the brand ‘361’.
Sun’s yellow uniform especially stood out as the bronze medalist in the 200m free race was also from China, with Ji Xinjie standing next to Sun in a much different white uniform.
Said the ‘Anta’ brand after the incident, “A winning suit is not only a result, but also a national honor. It is a national image. The rules and bottom line are not insulting. ” (Vaaju)
In response, Sun Yang did don a different outfit during the 800m freestyle medal ceremony, but not exactly how ‘Anta’ would have liked. The star indeed wore the Anta uniform, but draped himself in the Chinese flag, thus covering up the Anta logo. The vision is being likened to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when American basketball phenom Michael Jordan covered himself in the flag of the United States to hide the nation’s sponsor of Reebok, when he was under contract with Nike.
Per the Anta brand, “Athletes from the same country dressed in various award-winning costumes have an unprecedented history in world sports history and have a major impact on China’s national image and rules. Personal interests are [being placed] above national interests,” (South Morning China Post)
Sun still has the individual 1500m freestyle event to contest here in Jakarta.