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Chen Fizzles at Chinese Trials -- May 17, 2000

JINAN, May 17. China's Chen Yan, the world record-holder and reigning world champion in the women's 400 meter individual medley, finished a disappointing fifth in her event at the Chinese Olympic Trials today.

Chen, 19, clocked 4:51.53, finishing more than eight seconds behind winner Liu Yin (4:43.17) and nowhere near the world record 4:34.79 she set at the National Games in Shanghai in October 1997.

"We hope she can find her form in Sydney but I am not sure," coach Han Bingyan was quoted by Xinhua as saying. "We will wait for the outcome of the selection and then decide what to do next."

Chen, whose phenomenal, come-from-nowhere performances between October 1997 and January 1998 drew accusations of drug use, reportedly has suffered stomach problems since she won both the 400 IM and 400 freestyle at the World Championships in Perth in January 1998. Chen won the 400 IM at the Asian Championships in Pusan, South Korea, in March in a so-so 4:46.09.

China's 1996 Olympic silver medalist, Liu Limin, was disappointed in her time while winning the 100 meter butterfly. This was Liu's first competition in China since she left two years ago to attend school at the University of Nevada, Reno. In March she set NCAA records in winning both the 100 and 200 meter butterfly events (short course) in Indianapolis.

Liu dipped under the qualifying time for the Sydney Olympics as she won Tuesday's 100 metres butterly final in 59.86 seconds, well ahead of second-placed Ruan Yi. But the 24-year-old Liu, double butterfly world champion in 1994, told Xinhua news agency on Wednesday, that was not good enough.

"I am happy I reached the Olympic standard but the result was below my expectation,"' said Liu, who blamed a lack of training since returning home in late March.

"I swam 59.15 in the 100 metres and two minutes 9.43 seconds in the 200 metres in the United States last August," she said.

Zhao Ge, chief coach of the national team, agreed Liu was surprisingly below her best. "I had predicted she could swim within the 59 barrier. However, I have to say her result is okay after such a short time of recovery," he said.