World record-holding Chinese distance man Sun Yang will be returning to Australia to kick off his training in 2016, according to a post on Sun’s Facebook profile.
Sun training in Australia has been a situation mired in controversy since the Chinese swimmer served a three-month suspension for doping last year. Swimming Australia officially tightened its rules for foreign athletes following Sun’s suspension, and publicly announced that Sun was no longer welcome at their official training centers.
Swimming Australia forced coach Denis Cotterell to stop coaching Sun, but Sun managed to find a workaround that allowed him to stay in Australia. News broke in early 2015 that Sun was using a public lane on the Gold Coast and training with Brian King, who was an assistant to Cotterell earlier in his career.
Complicating matters, King has come under fire for a separate issue involving alleged verbal abuse of athletes. Officials at King’s former club allege Cotterell hired King without permission from the club’s committee and then covered for King even as complaints rolled in about King’s allegedly unethical treatment of his youth swimmers, as we reported in a lengthy piece earlier this year.
King was suspended from coaching for 6 months by Swimming Australia in response to the matter. That ban is just about to expire, but King is still barred from coaching children for two and a half years and is on a probationary license to coach at all.
There’s no word on where Sun plans to train in Australia or if he hopes to train with King or a different coach.
Sun, who won double gold medals at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, posted a review of his 2015 season on Facebook over the weekend, running through his 2015 highlights and his plans for 2016. That’s where his announcement about returning to Australia appears.
“As scheduled, I will be heading to Australia next year in January for training,” Sun says in the post.
“My goal was to stand on the podium of Kazan, let the National Anthem of China play and let the National Flag of China rise. I’m glad I did it!” Sun’s post also says, recapping his third-consecutive gold medal in the 800 free, his second-consecutive win in the 400 free and saying he was “pretty satisfied” with his performances even after missing gold in the 200 free by just .06 seconds. (Great Britain’s James Guy touched out Sun for that title).
Sun also addressed his scratch out of the 1500 free final, saying he scratched the race due to a heart condition and apologizing to fans for “giving up a medal for China.” Sun was optimistic about his chances in the race this coming year, saying “I will take back the medal that I have lost” at the Rio Olympics next summer.