China’s Sun scorched over doping record after he cruises into 400m freestyle final
Olympic golden girl Ye Shiwen misses out on individual medley showcase
China’s superstar swimmer Sun Yang easily clinched his place in the 400-metre freestyle final, winning his heat to qualify fourth overall on Saturday, before coming under heavy fire over his doping record.
After Sun had cruised into the final, two of his rivals took a swipe at the Chinese swimmer and the sniping began barely moments after the swimmers had towelled off.
Asked about known doping violators Sun and South Korean Park Tae-hwan competing in Rio, Australian Mack Horton sniffed: “I don’t have time or respect for drug cheats.”
Former champion Park failed to reach the final on his return from an 18-month steroid ban and Canada’s Ryan Cochrane pulled no punches after he also missed the final.
“I wish it was even across the board,” he fumed. “For an athlete that’s clean it’s really frustrating. Once the Games are over, we’ll all look back and wish this was handled better.”
Defending Olympic champion Sun won his 400m freestyle heat in 3 minutes 44.23 seconds to qualify fourth overall for Sunday’s final behind American Conor Dwyer (3:43.42), Horton (3:43.84) and Italian Gabriele Detti (3:43.95).
The 24-year-old was trailing third in his heat after the third turn but quickly turned on the power and cruised home. He clenched his fist and smiled broadly when the scoreboard confirmed he had won.
However, team-mate and defending champion Ye Shiwen was not so fortunate, failing to qualify for the final of the women’s 400m individual medley.
Ye finished a lowly 27th out of 33 swimmers in Saturday’s preliminaries with a time of 4:45.86 – a long way behind Hungary’s “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu whose 4:28.58 was just 0.15 short of the Chinese swimmer’s world record.
In other pool action Saturday, Britain’s Adam Peaty set the first world record of the Rio Olympic swimming competition.
Roared on by a raucous Brazilian crowd, Peaty smashed his own mark in the men’s 100m breaststroke with a time of 57.55 seconds and looks odds-on to become Britain’s first male Olympic swimming champion since 1988.
“Going down the first 50 I knew it was fast,” he said. “It wasn’t until 25 metres to go the crowd started going ‘Rar!’ I thought there’s no Brazilians in this race, they’ve got to be shouting for something.”