China’s Liu Xiang Destroys 50 Free National & Asian Record From 1994


The 13th Annual National Games of China are nearing conclusion, but not before more history was made in the Tianjin pool tonight, courtesy of sprinter Liu Xiang.

A finalist in the women’s 50m freestyle at the 2017 World Championships with a time of 24.58, which tied two others for 6th, Liu kicked off her splash n’ dash campaign here with a monster 24.32 time in prelims. That mark was enough to demolish the previous national and continental record of 24.51 set by Le Jingyi way back in 1994 at that year’s World Championships. At the time, Le’s gold medal-winning outing represented a new World Record as well. For perspective, the bronze medalist in that 1994 race was America’s Amy Van Dyken.

Tonight in Tianjin, however, 21-year-old Liu wasn’t done setting off fireworks, as the 21-year-old crushed an even lower time of 24.04 in the 2nd semi-final. That mark hacked .28 off of her already-historic morning swim and sets her up as the top seed by well over a half a second heading into tomorrow night’s final.

Also swimming tonight was Zhejiang backstroker Liu Yaxin, who took the 200m event in a time of 2:08.41. That was good enough to beat the final field tonight by over a second, as well as surpass her own time of 2:09.02 clocked during the semi-finals of this race in Budapest.

Butterfly maestro Li Zhuhao won the 100m distance of that discipline handily tonight, stopping the clock at 51.10 to win by over a second as well. He was 6th in Budapest with a time of 50.96.

Although Ning Zetao was able to clinch his sprint freestyle double with a 50m victory tonight, his winning time of 22.04 was off of his 21.98 from last night’s semi-final. That sub-22 mark was within .05 of Ning’s own personal best and national record of 21.91 set at the 2013 edition of these Games. Runner-up tonight was Shi Yang in 22.19, while Zhao Xianjian claimed bronze in 22.26.

Freestyle ace Li Bingjie wrapped up her highly successful Games with another win, this time in the 800m distance. Li cranked out a result of 8:20.98 to collect gold on top of her 400m freestyle and 1500m victories in national record-setting times here in Tianjin.

Still left to compete individually is Sun Yang, who will contest the men’s 1500m freestyle after already sweeping the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events.

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bobo gigi
4 years ago

Always crazy fast times when Chinese swim at home. Probably another 49-meter pool….

Sean Quinn
Reply to  bobo gigi
4 years ago

Nah, must be all the exempted medications, 🙂

bobo gigi
4 years ago
4 years ago

I’m pretty sure Liu Xiang is also the name of a male Olympic gold medalist in hurdles for china

Reply to  mcgillrocks
4 years ago

Their names write differently in Chinese, tho identically in English.

4 years ago

One positive drug screen and she can swim for Ohio State!

Reply to  Marge
4 years ago

Found a salty Michigan fan!

4 years ago

Chinese female swimmers had such absurd body shapes at the 1994 Rome WCs … you could tell they were doping just by looking at them

Reply to  luigi
4 years ago

Honest question and probably a dumb one, if China were doping back in 1994 why would they do it in pretty much exclusively women? Are the effects of certain PEDs more magnified in women?

M Palota
Reply to  Victor
4 years ago

That’s actually a good question and you’ve guessed the correct answer: The across the board effects of a dramatic increase in strength was – especially at that time – more pronounced in women than it was in men.

It wasn’t so much the PED’s themselves, it was that by using the PED’s, those athletes could train incredibly hard, especially in the weight room. And they were competing at a time – we’re talking about the mid-90’s – when female athletes, broadly speaking, weren’t lifting as much as they are today.

FYI, I have friends that were at the ’94 Worlds in Rome: To a person, they all say the Chinese women competing there were the most egregious and obvious… Read more »

Reply to  M Palota
4 years ago

I stood next to a young Flo Jo & was accidentally mistaken for US team member by event staff & let into a venue free. . I was 5’7 & 126lbs like Florence. I could not believe the Florence I saw at Seoul . The media loved her so don’t preach .

Im still here & she’s dead .

Reply to  G.I.N.A
4 years ago

My point is that although the 80s were ste roid city , athletes did not look much different until Flo Jo went extreme . My guess would be HGH .

If you look at pics of athletes late 70s80s it’s amazing how few discernable muscles they had . In fact we were All much slimmer & less muscley . Young women used to have slender legs beneath dresses & now they have huge chunkers & the stilettos are getting highher to try to get some illusion .

We’ve become Flo Jos .


Jon Nap
4 years ago

Never will understand how and why these swimmers can’t compete on the biggest stages (World Champs, Olympics) with these times. Americans always seem to swim the fastest when it counts. Maybe that’s a tribute to how USA Swimming mentally prepares their swimmers compared to other countries. But still, it happens with the Chinese, Australians among others.

Reply to  Jon Nap
4 years ago

You REALLY can’t understand it?

Drama King
Reply to  Jon Nap
4 years ago

Hard to say this about Chinese , But certainly on Aussies ?

Reply to  Jon Nap
4 years ago

Can’t speak for an Olympic year but for this year, to the Chinese swimmers, the National Games are a way bigger deal than the World Championships. The National Games are once every four years and get huge media coverage domestically. Most of the Chinese swimmers are peaking for the National Games this year.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Swim analyst, businesswoman.

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