National Games of China 2017

China’s swim star Sun Yang amazed by Hong Kong’s Kenneth To’s performance as they team up for relay medal at National Games

Sun missed out his ambitious seven gold medal target but the star swimmer has no complaints

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 September, 2017, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 September, 2017, 2:11pm

China’s superstar swimmer Sun Yang said Hong Kong’s Kenneth To King-him had delivered the “perfect performance” as they teamed up in the 4x100 metre freestyle relay at the National Games in Tianjin.

The team only finished second, ending Sun’s hopes of winning seven gold medals at China’s Olympics-style event, but that was no fault of To’s, who notched 48.53 seconds for his leg.

“No one here could have imagined he swam this result,” said Sun, who trained with To in Hong Kong at the Sports Institute before the Games.

“His performance in the second leg is just prefect. We hope to see more of this kind of cooperation to promote exchanges and friendship between the two areas, from junior levels and maybe to the national team in future.

“All we want to do is to provide more positive energy to help swimming in China.”

To became eligible to represent Hong Kong in June after returning from Australia to the city where he was born.

He joined Sun and two other Zhejiang swimmers for the relay after China’s sports authorities allowed athletes from different provinces to team up for the first time.

Impressive Hong Kong swimmer Kenneth To earns slot in relay team with Olympic ace Sun Yang at China National Games

“I am very happy to be part of this team and very proud to represent Hong Kong and to have this opportunity,” said 25-year-old To, speaking in English at the post-match interview – he speaks English and Cantonese but not Putonghua.

“Sun’s English is great,” said To of his translator. “My next task is to learn Mandarin.

“The team swam very well tonight but the winners did a very good job. They all swam fast and were able to win.”

Another combined team from Guangdong, Henan and Liaoning won the race in 3:14.70 with Sun and To’s Hong Kong-Zhejiang team second in 3:15.09.

Sun, world champion in 200 and 400 metre freestyle in Budapest last month, had no complaints despite missing out on the gold.

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“I am very satisfied with the result,” said Sun, the flag-bearer for Zhejiang at the opening ceremony.

“This is the real level of the Zhejiang team. In fact, both me and Wang Shun in the first leg have suffered fever before the race while Xu Jiayu’s major discipline is backstroke and not freestyle.

“For me, I swam a 48-second third leg which was the fastest among all the swimmers in the relay final.

“It gives me more confidence in my 200 and 400 metres, as the improvement of my speed in the first 50 and 100 metres will definitely help.”