Despite being entirely absent from the men’s 1500m freestyle final, FINA has awarded China’s Sun Yang with the title of “Male Swimmer of the Meet” at the 2015 World Championships.
While the case for Katie Ledecky earning FINA’s Female Swimmer of the Meet was without dispute, some argue that Sun Yang was not the clear winner of the distinction on the men’s side. Great Britain’s Adam Peaty earned two individual gold medals at the meet, for example, even clocking a world record in the 50m breaststroke event. Australia’s Mitch Larkin also swam his way two individual gold medals at the meet, as did France’s Florent Manaudou. Laszlo Cseh from Hungary also had an incredible meet, earning gold in the 200m butterfly, bronze in the 50m butterfly and silver in the 100m butterfly events.
For his part, Sun Yang brought home a total of 3 medals – two gold and one silver at this year’s version of the championships. Of note, history was indeed made for Sun Yang with this performance, as his overall total medals across World Championships now registers 6, moving him past countryman Luo Xuejuan as the most successful Chinese swimmer.
Sun Yang kicked off his medal wins with a victory in the men’s 400m freestyle, becoming just the third man in history to win consecutive gold medals in the event. The other swimmers who accomplished this were Australia’s Ian Thorpe (1998-2003) and Russia’s Vladimir Salnikov (1978, 1982).
Then, Sun Yang snagged silver in the men’s 200m freestyle behind Great Britain’s James Guy. In doing so, Sun Yang became just the second swimmer in history to win a medal of any color across the 200m-400m-800m-1500m events over multiple world championships. The only other swimmer to accomplish this feat did so at a singular championships, when Australia’s Grant Hackett brought home gold in the 400m/800m/1500m and silver in the 200m at the 2005 World Championships.
More history was also in the men’s 800m freestyle race, as Sun Yang captured his third world title in the event, surpassing the previous record of two titles held by Hackett.
As mentioned, Sun Yang was absent from the men’s 1500m freestyle final due to reports of a health issue.
This is the second time that Sun Yang has been awarded the honor, after having been recognized in 2013.