Sun finally shines: brilliant Sun Yang claims 200m freestyle title in convincing fashion
Sun becomes the first Chinese swimmer to win the Olympic men’s 200 metres freestyle gold medal on Monday
China’s superstar swimmer Sun Yang staged a comeback at the Rio Olympics, shrugging off the pressure brought by his Australian rival Mack Horton after their 400-metre battle and taking home the gold in the 200m freestyle.
The 24-year-old Chinese swimmer finished the race in one minute, 44.65 seconds, with South Africa’s Chad Le Clos just 0.5 seconds slower. USA’s Conor Dwyer took bronze in 1:45.23.
“I was focusing on myself today. I didn’t see whoever you were talking about. I did my very best in the finals today, and I did so by not getting concerned with what was happening outside,” Sun said alluding to his developing rivalry with Australian Horton.
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Asked if he was confident in beating Horton in the 1,500m race later this week, he said: “I am now in my top form. All I need to do is to focus on myself. I think it is important for everyone not to care too much about what is happening outside.”
He did not answer when asked if he thinks Horton should apologise for calling him a “drug cheat” earlier this week.
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Sun said winning the gold medal has given him a lot of motivation to keep pushing himself in the future.
“The past is the past. For me, the most difficult time has already gone. I have won a gold medal now and I will have to push myself harder in the future,” he said.
The Chinese swimmer was slapped with a three-month suspension in 2014 for taking a drug he said was needed for a heart condition.
The 1.98-metre Sun broke down in tears earlier this week after losing by a split second to Horton in the 400m race.
Tension between Sun and Horton has been running high after the Australian swimmer called the Chinese superstar a “drug cheat” saying he “has a problem with (Sun) testing positive and still competing”.
The Chinese Swimming Association has written to its Australian counterpart to demand an apology.
But Australia’s Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller said Australia has no intention of apologising since every athlete has the right to express themselves.
While Sun was reluctant to talk about Horton, he said the day before that he was the “king” of 1,500 metres.
The two are set to face each other again in their 1,500m qualifying heat on Friday. The finals take place the following day.