By Phillip Whitten
They were expecting fireworks at the Chinese City Games, held in Xian, September 12-15. After all, the Chinese Swimming Federation said it was only sending a rump team of five to the Pan Pacific Championships in August so it’s top swimmers could focus on the City Games in September. Foreworks may have been forecast, but for the most part, the heralded City Games turned out to be a fizzle, a dud, with few world-class performances.
There were some exceptions–notably youngsters Qi Hui and Cheng Jiajia, and veteran Chen Hua. Qi, 14, who Americans first glimpsed at last year’s Goodwill Games took both the women’s 100 and 200m breaststroke. Her 2:26.51 in the 200 was the world’s fourth fastest this year and set a new Asian and Chinese national record.
Thirteen year-old Cheng, a new face in Chinese swimming, swept the three backstroke events for women, clocking 1:01.76 for the 100, seventh in the world, and 2:12.83 for the 200, tenth on the global list.
Chen, a strong distance freestyler with dynamite turns, won the women’s 400 and 800 free and both IMs.
The men’s times were weaker than the women’s, though 20-year-old Jin Hao emerged as the meet’s only six-event winner, taking the 200, 400 and 1500 free, the 200 fly and both medleys. His 2:00.16 for the fly was his best effort.