Asian Games 2018: China swimmer Sun Yang hopes Hong Kong weather can aid his quest for five gold medals
Three-time Olympic champion wants to take his tally to 10 gold medals in the Asian Games, second in China behind legendary shooter Wang Yifu’s 14
China swimming superstar Sun Yang is hoping training stints in Hong Kong and Singapore will help him claim five gold medals in Jakarta and become his country’s second most successful Asian Games athlete of all time.
Cheng Hao, China’s swimming leader at the Games, said the three-time Olympic gold medallist was in fine form ahead of Jakarta and benefited from time spent at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and in Singapore.
“Sun Yang’s preparation is very good,” Cheng said. “The training stints in Singapore and Hong Kong are good for him because the climate there is closer to that of Jakarta.
“I believe that under the guidance of his coaches, he will be fine. No need to worry about his performances, I believe Sun Yang will perform very well in Jakarta.”
The 26-year-old Sun is expected to compete in freestyle events for the men’s 200 metres, 400m, 800m, 1,500m and one of the relays. Should he win all five he will take his gold medal total to 10, second behind legendary Chinese shooter Wang Yifu, who won 23 Asian Games medals, of which 14 were gold.
The bulk of the Chinese Asian Games squad was to arrive in Jakarta on Thursday, with the swimmers expected to be a rich source of medals.
However, another of China’s stars who made an impact at the Rio Olympics in 2016, women’s backstroke specialist Fu Yuanhui, said they expected tough opposition from Japanese swimmers using the Asian Games as a testing ground for their own Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
“I feel the competition with the Japanese team will be fierce,” Fu said. “Everyone must be fully committed. We have to go all out and work as hard as we can.”
Fu was a media star in China and around the world at Rio because of her comedic facial expressions and eccentric interviews.
What really put her in the limelight was her admission after a relay, in which China finished fourth, that she failed to perform because she was menstruating. She was praised in China and elsewhere for breaking the sporting taboo of discussing menstruation.
Olympic men’s 100m backstroke silver medallist and 2017 world champion, Xu Jiayu, is hoping for his first Asian Games individual gold medal.
“I haven’t had many gold medals in world and Asian competitions so I will try my best to change that here in the Asian Games,” the 22-year-old Xu said.
“Recently, I have achieved world-class times and I’m hoping I can make that breakthrough and maybe break a world record.”