QINGDAO, China, May 15. IN the first night without Chinese superstars Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen dominating the headlines at Chinese Nationals, a big-time butterfly battle drew most of the spotlight.
In a high-profile battle within China, 2012 London gold medalist Jiao Liuyang cruised to victory in the women’s 200-meter fly with a 2:07.28, while the 2008 Beijing gold medalist Liu Zige faded to third with a 2:09.89 as Zhou Yilin managed to sneak into second in 2:09.81. Jiao’s sizzling time moved her to sixth in the world rankings.
Both swimmers explained that they were not on their best form coming into Qingdao, even though local media outlets had been calling tonight’s finale the Butterfly Wars. Jiao’s coach Liu Haitao stated that she’s been battling a stomach ulcer and has only had about 10 weeks of training as trainers focused more on getting her to a healthy weight. Liu, meanwhile, explained that she didn’t get back to training after the All-China Games, really only beginning real training in February.
A pair of swimmers cleared 1:00 in the women’s 100-meter backstroke finale as favorite Fu Yuanhui threw down a 59.59 for the win, and moved to third in the world rankings. Meanwhile, newcomer Wang Xuer raced her way to seventh in the world with a 59.98 to take second overall in the event. Chen Jie rounded out the top three in 1:00.28 for 13th in the world in what proved to be a deep podium for the Chinese.
In some longer-distance competition, Yang Zhixian put himself in the mix with Wang Shun as the top IMer in China with a 4:11.04 for the men’s 400-meter IM victory. That swim vaulted him to third in the world, just a few seconds off Wang Shun’s Chinese record of 4:09.10. Huang Chaosheng finished second in 4:14.02 for seventh in the world, while Wang placed third in 4:17.59.
Shen Duo captured the women’s 200-meter freestyle victory this evening with a 1:57.06, jumping to 11th in the world, while Tang Yi placed second in 1:57.84 as she continues to expand out from her sprinting roots. Guo Junjun turned in a third-place time of 1:57.95.
Li Xiang hit the wall in 1:00.83 to win the men’s 100-meter breaststroke, while Mao Feilian snared second in 1:01.59. Wang Shuai picked up third overall in 1:02.03. Li Zhuhao followed with a 52.79 for the win in the men’s 100-meter fly, while Zhang Qibin touched second in 53.26. Wang Yuxin earned third in 53.36.
Beijing topped the men’s 400-meter free relay with a 3:20.53, while Zhejiang (3:21.56) and Shanghai (3:22.87) placed second and third in the relay swim.