Asian Games 2018

Asian Games: ‘I’m the best and the strongest,’ China swimmer Sun Yang tells the world as he eyes 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The three-time Olympic champion is issuing a warning to his international rivals that he will be a major force at the next Games

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2018, 9:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2018, 10:14pm

China swimming superstar Sun Yang wants to tell the world that he is still the best and the strongest swimmer alive, despite his back issues, in a warning to rivals ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 26-year-old three-time Olympic champion has been plagued by back problems at the Asian Games in Jakarta but still managed to win three gold medals and a silver, with one more event to go.

The flamboyant Chinese giant said encouraging words from his Australian coach Denis Cotterell before the Jakarta Games has given him confidence to overcome his injury and take on the world yet again.

“[Denis] told me that I am the best and the strongest,” Sun was quoted as saying. “He told me this and I also want to tell the world. I am still a very threatening swimmer.”

In Jakarta, Sun has taken gold in the men’s 200m, 800m and 400m freestyle events while winning silver in the men’s 4x200m relay.

Sun won one gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, in the 200m freestyle,and was beaten to the silver in the 400m freestyle by Australian Mack Horton, who verbally sparred with the Chinese swimmer throughout the competition.

And Sun’s latest boast is seen as a warning to the likes of Horton and others who are looking to take him down in Tokyo.

Sun said after the relay defeat by Japan that he had back problems and received treatment until 1am on the night before the race.

After racing three days in a row, he is looking forward to a rest before his pet event, the men’s 1,500m on Friday – though he may be called up for Wednesday’s 4x100m relay.

Sun also said his teammates are feeling the strain with China’s domination in the pool being challenged by Japan and with the standard of other countries rising.

“My physical condition is actually not that good,” said Sun. “There is fatigue because I had to swim for three consecutive days. I just want to achieve a good standard.

“I’ll simply train for the next two days, I don’t know if the team will call me for the 4x100m relay, I feel like I’m on notice. I’d like to thanks the fans. They have come a long way to see us see so, thank you.

“I believe the young swimmers on our team are also very tired because this is a very strenuous sports event and the standard is high, especially in these Asian Games we have seen that other countries, especially Japan and teams such as Malaysia and Jordan, producing some good swimmers.

“They have put up a good challenge and that has had an effect on the China team. Our swimmers have been asked to do more at these Games just to stay ahead.”