BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA, Oct. 5. MEMO to American superstar Michael Phelps: better NOT look back, pal, because somebody's gaining on you real quick — and his name ain't Erik Vendt!
On Day 5 of 7 in the swimming competition at the 14th Asian Games in the Sajik Swimming Pool here this evening, China's 15-year-old phenom, Wu Peng, splashed to his second individual gold of the competition, second national record and first Asian standard.
Wu turned 15 on May 16. He's 5-11-1/2, 159 pounds (1.82 meters and 72 kilograms for those metrically inclined), and he won the 400 IM in a very impressive 4:15.38 over Japan's Takahiro Mori (4:16.63) and his teammate, Shinya Taniguchi (4:17.03).
The latter pair were third and fourth at the Pan Pacs in Yokohama last August in prs of 4:15.41 – 4:15.46, with the former's third-place time an Asian record too.
Wu's previous pr was a 4:21.29 from China's Pan Pac/ Asian Games Trials in Ashan last April.
Phelps of course is 400 IM world record-holder off his 4:11.09 from the U.S. Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale in early August (and the Hall of Fame Pool is slow?). He's also world record-holder in the 200 fly and was last year's World Champion. For good measure, Phelps went a 1:58.68 to set an American record in the 200 IM at the U.S. Nationals, fastest for 2002 and No. 3
performance all-time (second performer).
Phelps "aged up" to 16 at the end of June and arguably it is unfair to compare the two. But if Peng continues the improvement he has shown this year at Barcelona next summer (World Championships), Messrs. Phelps and
Vendt could be in for some veeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyy interesting competition.
Wu's medley clocking ranks him fourth on the '02 global list and, along with his gold-medal winning 1:56.63 NR in the 200 fly, makes him the first
Chinese male swimmer to rank among the world's Top 10 in two events in the last 40+ years. He's eighth in the fly.
Phelps' WR in the IM leads the rankings with Vendt's pr 4:11.27 (No. 2 performance all-time) second. Third is Italy's Alessio Boggiatto, derfending World Champion, who won the European title in Berlin last August with a 4:13.19 — just .04 off his pr-NR from Fukuoka. Then comes Master Wu.
Mori's 4:15.41 ranks him fifth globally and Taniguchi is sixth so they're certainly in the picture for Barcelona and — perhaps — Athens in two years.
Wu is also a pretty good backstroker for a 15-year-old with a pr of 2:01.70 from the Trials. This race has yet to be swum here so he may yet have a surprise or two in his Speedo.
The other men's individual race tonight saw China's Yu Cheng splash to an Asian record 15:10.99 in the 1500 free, with American-trained Sung Mo Cho (South Korea) runner-up in a pr-NR 15:12.32. Cho has been training in Guadalajara, Mexico the past year under vetern American coach Jack Simon, technical director of the state of Jalisco.
Yu — who stands 6-4 and weighs 187 pounds (1.82 meters, 72 kilos) –had a previous pr-NR of 15:15.95 from last year's National Games. The old Asian record was 15:14.40 by Japan's Masato Hirano from Sydney. So both swimmers went under the continental standard in a very impressive performance indeed.
The winner's time ranks him 12th globally while Cho is 14th. Are you reading this, Chris Thompson?
In the 400 medley relay, Japan won handily, 3:37.46 to China's 3:42.07.
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Only two women's races were contested, with Japan and China each winning a gold. The 50 free saw China speedster Xu Yanwei, whose pr is 25.02 from the Pan Pac/Asian Games Trials, win in 25.42.
But the real surprise was Korea's 14 year-old Sun So Eun, who went a pr-NR 25.63 for the silver. She had never before been under 26.0 — or even close. China's Zhou Xiaowei (25.78) won the bronze. The latter's pr is 25.61 from last year's National Games.
Japan came back to sweep the 200 back with Reiko Nakamura (2:11.44) winning the gold and Aya Terakawa (2:12.38) the silver. China's Zhan Shu (pr 2:13.25) was third.
Nakamura's pr is 2:10.99 from last year's East Asian Games in Osaka while Terakawa's best is a 2:12.28 from the Pan Pacs.
The Japanese record is 2:10.05 by Tomoko Hagiwara, who is recovering from an illness suffered at the Pan Pacs. The Asian record is 2:07.40 by China's He Cihong, a performance that won her the gold at the
1994 World Championships in Rome. He's swim still ranks her fourth on the all-time world performances' list (second-performer).
A month later at Hiroshima she won the Asian Games title in 2:09.40. However, at that competition seven of her teammates were found to have too many tigers in their tank — all had astronomical levels of DHT — and were suspended for doping offenses. (He never tested positive, but in meets where intense testing was done, she was unable to swim even remotely close to her best. At the Atlanta Olympics, for example, she could manage only a 1:05.86 for the 100m back — orders of magnitude slower than her world record 1:00.16 swum two years earlier.)
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In water polo, Korea rolled to an easy 11-4 win over Singapore; Japan pulled away from Iran after the two were tied 4-4 at halftime, to win 12-9; and Kazakhstan thumped China, 9-2, holding the Chinese scoreless in the second half.
14th Asian Games
Busan, South Korea
September 29 – October 14, 2002
DAY FIVE: October 4, 2002
Women's 50m Freestyle
F 1 4 XU Yanwei People's Rep. of China
2 5 SUN So Eun Korea
3 3 ZHOU Xiaowei People's Rep. of China
4 6 NAGAI Tomoko Japan
5 2 RYU Yoon Ji Korea
6 7 URABE Norie Japan
7 1 Moe Thu Aung Myanmar
8 8 TANG Hing Ting Hong Kong, China
Women's 200m Backstroke
F 1 4 NAKAMURA Reiko Japan
2 2 TERAKAWA Aya Japan
3 6 ZHAN Shu People's Rep. of China
4 5 CHEN Xiujun People's Rep. of China
5 3 BANG Eun Ji Korea
6 8 TSAI Hiu Wai Sherry Hong Kong, China
7 7 VORATHAMRONG Chonlathorn Thailand
8 1 DANILA Lizza Philippines
Men's 1,500m Freestyle
1 4 YU Cheng People's Rep. of China
15:10.99 Asian Record
2 6 CHO Sung Mo Korea
3 2 HAN Kyu Chul Korea
4 3 FUJITA Shunichi Japan
5 5 ZHENG Shibin People's Rep. of China
6 8 MENDOZA Miguel Philippines
7 7 MATSUDA Takeshi Japan
8 4 CHUNG Kwok Leung Hong Kong, China
Men's 400m Individual Medley
F 1 6 WU Peng People's Rep. of China
4:15.38 Asian Record
2 4 MORI Takahiro Japan
3 5 TANIGUCHI Shinya Japan
4 3 KIM Bang Hyun Korea
5 7 XIE Xufeng People's Rep. of China
6 8 MOLINA Miguel Philippines
7 1 SIRISANONT Ratapong Thailand
8 2 PICCIO Carlo Philippines
Men's 4 x 100m Medley Relay
F 1 4 Japan
2 3 People's Rep. of China
OUYANG Kun Peng
3 5 Korea
SON Sung Uk
YOO Jeong Nam
KO Yun Ho
4 6 Malaysia
LIM Keng Liat
CHIA Tshun Thau
LIM Yu-lung Lubrey
ONG Hou Meng
5 7 Chinese Taipei
WU Nien Pin
YANG Shang Hsuan
TSENG Cheng Hua
WANG Shao An
6 2 Hong Kong, China
FONG Lik Sun
TAM Chi Kin
KWOK Kin Ming Mark
FU Wing Harbeth
7 1 Kazakhstan
8 8 Uzbekistan
3 3 2 3 11
0 3 0 1 4
2 2 4 4 12
Islamic Republic of Iran
1 3 3 2 9
3 2 2 2 9
People's Rep. of China
1 1 0 0 2