Sun Yang was back in action on day 5 of the Chinese Long Course National Championships and Olympic Trials in Shaoxing, China, in the 200 freestyle.
This is not an event with which he is most frequently associated, but it is one in which his coach Dennis Cotterell feels that he has huge potential to upset the lofty American duo of Ryan Lochter and Michael Phelps. At last year’s World Championships, however, he didn’t swim it – focusing instead on the 400-800-1500 triple. There’s a great chance that he’ll add it at this year’s Olympic Games, as without the 800 free there won’t be as much demand on his body from the distance freestyles.
He won the race here in 1:46.05, which is not anywhere near his best – but for what we’ve seen from him in this meet, it’s about what is expected from him.
Hao Yun was 2nd in the 200 free in 1:47.08 and Li Yunqi was3rd in 1:48.17, which for him was at least better (relatively) than his disappointing 400 free from earlier in the meet.
But absent from that race, as well as the 400 IM later in the day, was 17-year old Wang Shun – who was 7th in the World in 2011 in the 200 free and 4th in the 400 IM. He did swim earlier this year in Australia, along with a good portion of this Chinese men’s group, but was absent from either final. Great results aren’t available, so its not clear if he swam the earlier rounds of the race, but that’s a huge shock to a Chinese men’s team that has struggled mightily in this meet.
In that 400 IM, without Shun swimming, the title went to Zhixian Yang in 4:11.92, to just out-touch Chengxiang Wang in 4:12.02. For Yang, that’s a two-second lifetime best, though Wang was faster in 2011. Both swims are slower than Shun’s best from last year, and though that top two is still very good (though still not good enough to challenge for medals), China sacrificed a lot of their great depth in this race.
Last season, they had five swimmers go faster than 4:15. This year, only this pair accomplished that.
More massive upsets came in the only women’s Olympic final of the day- the 200 fly. This is an event that the Chinese women have dominated in recent years, including a pair of medals at the World Championships. That didn’t change in this meet – they put up the #2 and #3 times in the World in 2012, but not necessarily with the expected pair.
The defending World Champion and Olympic silver medalist Liuyang Jiao took the win in 2:05.18 (second only to a time swum earlier this week in Japan), which is an excellent time for her at this time of year. But in 2nd behind her was Gong Jie in 2:05.38 – easily the best time of her life. Liu Zige however, limped into 3rd in 2:07.37. She is the defending Olympic Champion in the event.
Does this mean that Zige is out for the Olympic Team? Not necessarily. The always-unpredictable Chinese selection committee pretty-well selects whoever they expect to perform the best in London. Zige’s comments to the Chinese publication Xinhua “There are some problems in my training. I will focus on the 200m fly in the following months to prepare for the London Games.”
That statement seems to indicate that she still feels as though she has a chance at a spot on the Olympic Team in the event, though Gong Jie can’t be happy to hear that – her time would have won a medal at Worlds last year. The criteria for China choosing one over the other is not clear at all, but this will be a very difficult decision for them.
- Fu Yuanhui won the women’s 50 back in 27.95, the third-best time in the world this year.
- Li Xiayan won the men’s 50 breast in 27.82
- Li Xuanxu won the women’s 1500 free in 16:09.55, followed by Lili Zhou in 16:12.15. The 15-year old sensation Xin Xin swam a 16:13.57 for 3rd place.