Sun Yang Inspired By Phelps: “I Think It’s Amazing and Unbelievable”


After a roller coaster Olympics that saw him burst into tears after losing the 400 free, triumph in the 200 free and then miss the final of what has been his best race throughout his career, China’s Sun Yang has sighted American Michael Phelps‘ recent accomplishments as motivation for himself in the future.

“Actually, I think it’s amazing and unbelievable what Phelps has been doing and I’m quite excited about it as well,” Sun said. “I hope I can do the same thing and still be competing at 31 or 32. Actually, I do believe I’ll still be competing in the pool when I’m 31.

“Now it’s a difficult time for Chinese swimming and that makes me want to try my best to carry on swimming. Phelps’ own persistence actually encourages me to work harder and be more strict about my training because every athlete would love to take it a little bit easier in training. Phelps has set a great model for me to keep me motivated.”

“I often spend time thinking, when I’m doing hard work, that my opponents are training even harder so I don’t have any reason or excuse to give up or take a rest. I do respect him a lot. I also hope the best for him in his life after swimming. I’ve spent time watching him train and I can learn from him in every aspect, from his control in the pool to the techniques he’s using.

Sun began the week by losing to Australian Mack Horton in the 400 freestyle, bursting into tears after the devastating loss. It was his first loss internationally in any event 400 metres and up since 2011.

He then triumphed in the 200 free, winning his first major international gold in that race. His week ended with a thud earlier today, as he was over 30 seconds off his own world record in the 1500 free prelims finishing 16th overall and missing the final. With that swim, Sun won’t defend either Olympic titles that he won back in 2012.

Sun confirmed that an illness has been ailing him ever since the 200 final, and that it definitely contributed to his sub-par performance in the mile.

“I was quite sick right after the 200m. I then took six antibiotic pills ever day and that made a difference.”

“I didn’t think my body condition had declined quite so much after the 200m but I had swum one minute, 44 seconds for the 200, something I’d never done before, and that was really intense. I think it influenced my body condition too.”

He also talked about suggestions that he wouldn’t swim the 1500 heats, and that his motivation towards the event all year had gone back and forth.

“I did hear lots of rumours that I wouldn’t be able to compete but I actually think even if I finished in 16 or 17 minutes, as long as I did it, that would be encouragement for myself.”

“Ever since the Asian Games because of injury and health problems, my attitude to the 1500 has been changing, going up and down a lot.

“I didn’t get to compete that much ever since the Asian Games over 1500m. I can actually reach the time I swam today when I’m training.”

“I’m not satisfied with the time but this has now already gone and at least I did find the rhythm for swimming the 1500 again. Compared to what I’ve done in the past, I do find it quite hard to control the rhythm I have in the 1500.”

Sun also discussed whether or not he’ll continue to compete in the 1500, how he feels about his performances here in Rio, and his plans after the Games.

“I’m quite looking forward to competing in more 1500m events abroad when I’m training in the US or Australia. I’ll try to start finding the rhythm again because the key is in rhythm control.”

“I’m a bit happy and a bit sad and there are lots of things I can reflect upon later.

“The gold medal in the 200 is a really major breakthrough for me. I’ve been spending four years in second position in the 200 so winning the 200 here is the happiest moment for me.”

“I do feel a bit sad about the 400 silver. The rhythm in the 400, I didn’t control it well. I am going to try to improve these details in the future. I’m looking forward to more breakthroughs in future Games.”

“There’s another major games in China (in Huangshan) in September. Originally I was thinking about not going because the past year has been quite hard for me. I’m actually thinking about competing in Huangshan in multiple events.”

Sun also mentioned that the time change in Rio, along with the extremely late final sessions were difficult to adjust to and probably had a negative impact on his performance.

“I basically haven’t had any personal time – eating, training and doing physical therapy before Rio. I spent at least two hours every night and even here in Rio, I was being treated to two or three in the morning”.

“It’s been really hard for me to fall asleep every night. After spending time in the US, and then coming to Brazil, my whole biological body clock has been messed up. Often when it’s three or four in the morning, I’ve been wide awake staring at the ceiling. So I hope I can do my best in Huangshan and try a different way of competing”.



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6 years ago

Eh not so sure about the last part. He started training in the States back in May to accommodate the time difference. So the whole biological clock talk….

He simply shifted focus on 200&400

Attila the Hunt
Reply to  Bbb
6 years ago

He did. It was very obvious to us when he swam in Santa Clara.

6 years ago

Sun is a good guy.
Everybody makes mistakes including him.

Attila the Hunt
Reply to  CASWIM
6 years ago

Everybody makes mistakes.

In the case of Sun, he never served punishment.

6 years ago

I know alot of you may have issues with him and effimova but lets not forget they are human beings too. No one is all bad. Should they still be allowed to compete? In my opinion no. But I think there is a good side to each of them as well that deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.

Reply to  Qtip
6 years ago

Sun is far smarter than Efimova. Rather than pointing fingers at other people, he’s taking a different approach to garner empathy. He knows he’s not going to win any points defending himself or engaging in his childish antics in the warm-up pool. He shows a bit of “vulnerability” and “respect for others” through words that are published after all of his events are over. Nice timing.

If you really believe this is something genuine, you must have short term memory loss, really want to believe that everyone is good at heart when actions say otherwise, or just naive to believe these are really his opinions. This guy is just a jekyll-hyde.

People are so easily deceived.

Reply to  Qtip
6 years ago

I agree, I think they made a mistake and deserve respect and another chance.

Attila the Hunt
Reply to  Aserra1
6 years ago

Not Efimova,

She doesn’t seem to be repentant at all.
After her first suspension ended, she was like meh.. it was just another parking violation

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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