Sun Yang sees off stiff challenge in 1,500m freestyle final to reign supreme with National Games golds
The 26-year-old from Zhejiang province beats Ji Xinjie of Shandong in gruelling battle before quickly returning to anchor 4x100m medley relay triumph
Star swimmer Sun Yang reigned supreme on Thursday as he wrapped up his National Games of China campaign in strong style by winning two more events within 30 minutes to take his tally to six gold medals and one silver in eight days.
At the Tianjin Olympic Swimming Centre, Sun – a national hero despite his controversial behaviour in and out of the pool – took his fifth gold medal in front of a packed crowd in a gruelling 1,500 metres freestyle final.
The 26-year-old from Zhejiang province had to hold off a strong challenge from the younger Ji Xinjie of Shandong from the start and it was not until the last 200 metres that Sun was able to pull away and finish in a time of 15:05.18 – more than 30 seconds behind his world record set at the 2012 London Olympics.
Ji, who also came second to Sun in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle finals, was just over a second behind in 15:06.38.
No sooner had Sun picked up his fifth gold of the Games, he had to go back in the pool for the 4x100m medley relay, which he anchored for the Zhejiang and Hubei combined team.
This time there were no problems for Sun with his teammates giving him a comfortable lead before he finished the job.
They finished the race in 3:33.12, well ahead of the 3:35.64 of the combined Tianjin, Henan and Guangdong team.
Sun had entered seven events in Tianjin, winning in four individual events and two relays, which also included the 4x200m freestyle relay.
His only second-placed finish came in the 4x100m freestyle relay where his Zhejiang team was joined by Hong Kong’s Kenneth To King-him, who secured the first medal for Hong Kong at the National Games.
In the women’s 50m freestyle final, Liu Xiang, of Guangdong, failed to improve her Asian record she set twice the day before.
Liu, 21, was never under threat in the final, winning in a time of 24.07 seconds, just short of her 24.04 record set in the semi-finals. She first broke the mark with 24.32 in the heats.