Another day, another gold medal for China’s premier pool shark
BUDAPEST — Chinese superstar Sun Yang won the men’s 200m freestyle gold at the World Aquatics Championships on Tuesday to add to his Olympic title in the same event.
Sun touched the wall first in 1min, 44.39sec — 0.65sec ahead of Townley Haas of the United States. Russia’s Aleksandr Krasnykh earned bronze.
“I paid attention to detail and followed the instructions of my coach,” said Sun, who punched the water in triumph after his victory.
It marked Sun’s second gold of these championships after his victory in the 400m freestyle final last Sunday.
He will bid for the treble in Wednesday’s 800m freestyle final — the event he has dominated for the last three world championships since 2011 in Shanghai.
Sun timed his 200m race to perfection.
He was fourth at the halfway point, but caught leader and defending champion James Guy of Britain, who finished fifth, on the final turn and powered home to victory.
His triumph means the 25-year-old Sun is now the 200m freestyle champion at both the worlds and Olympics, after his victory at last year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.
The freestyle expert has nine gold medals to his name, spanning four world championships.
He holds a world title in each of the 200, 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle events.
Haas said he pushed through the pain barrier to grab silver.
“The last 50 meters hurt,” said the 20-year-old, a gold medalist in the 4x100m relay in the Hungarian capital.
“I couldn’t see Sun, but I could see James Guy’s arms, so in my head I thought, ‘I’ve got to stay ahead of him’. Then I put my head down and kept kicking.”
Guy, the 2015 world champion, was disappointed, especially after Britain’s double golds on Monday when Adam Peaty won the 100m breaststroke and Ben Proud took the 50m butterfly.
“It was very disappointing,” said Guy. “Yesterday I did it exactly the same way, I felt like I had more left to give on the last leg, especially towards the finish.
“With my roommate (Peaty) winning gold and Ben Proud winning gold, I want to get there too, but everything happens for a reason and I have a four-year plan,” he added, with an eye on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Xu’s record regret
Meanwhile, China’s Xu Jiayu won the men’s 100m backstroke, but confessed he was “disappointed” not to set a new world record.
The 21-year-old Olympic silver medalist clocked 52.44sec. American Matt Grevers earned silver, 0.04sec back, with his compatriot and Olympic champion Ryan Murphy taking bronze at 0.15.
“My main aim is to break the world record,” said Xu, who fell short of Murphy’s record of 51.85sec set at the Rio Olympics last year.
“I’m a little disappointed not to break it, but of course I’m happy with the win.
“Sometimes it comes down to many factors — luck or a good swim. It can be hard to say which is the greater factor.
“The silver medalist chased me really hard, it really depended on a small pinch of good luck.
“It’s quite an education, last year in Rio, a silver — this year, a gold.”
Having failed to qualify for the final at the 2013 world championships, Xu’s star has risen in recent years.
“I got better results in 2015; each time I compete the goal is different,” he said.
“I think of a new goal to achieve every time, today it was the gold medal. Further on I will work on new goals.”
Grevers, 32, was delighted with his silver at his fifth world championships.
“I feel great. Even a month ago if somebody said I took the silver, I would be OK with it, but now I am here,” he said. “This inspires me to get back to my best.
“Xu swam really well, I knew he was gonna go fast, he was between Ryan and I and he did it.”
But Murphy, the Olympic champion in both the 100m and 200m backstroke, was far from pleased to have been beaten into third.
“I am not really happy with the result. It is not so great if you start off really well and finish in third place,” said the 22-year-old.
China's Sun Yang celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's 200m freestyle final at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest on Tuesday. Right: Xu Jiayu of China celebrates after winning the men’s 100m backstroke title.