SHENYANG, China, September 11. THE Chinese National Games came to a close this evening with Sun Yang collecting his sixth medal overall during the meet. Meanwhile, veteran Wu Peng closed out his career on top of the podium with a win in the 400 medley relay.
Women’s 50 free
Shanghai’s Chen Xinyi nearly took down the longest standing Chinese record on the books this evening in the women’s splash-and-dash.
Chen, with Liberation Army’s Yang Li touching just behind, won the sprint in 24.61. That performance fell just .10 off Le Jingyi’s Asian record of 24.51 set at the 1994 World Championships in Rome. Chen skyrocketed to ninth in the world rankings with her swim as she nearly wiped out Le’s controversial mark in the 50 free. Le’s time is a history-laden performance for the Asians and particularly the Chinese. Le was a member of the controversial Chinese women’s teams in the 90s that were nailed for doping. Le, however, never tested positive herself. Le finished her career with an Olympic gold medal in the 100 free in 1996, three silvers from Olympic competition and four world titles from the 1994 Rome championships.
Yang, meanwhile, grabbed silver this evening in 24.76 to tie Britta Steffen for 10th in the world rankings this year, giving China a rare two spots in the top 10 in the world in the sprint freestyle event. Shanghai’s Tang Yi rounded out the podium with a third-place time of 25.02.
Men’s 1500 free
Zhejiang’s Sun Yang clinched his fifth gold medal of the meet with a swift top time of 14:53.17 in the men’s metric mile this evening. While nowhere near his world-leading 14:41.15 from the World Championships in Barcelona, he’s definitely showing he has the chops to contend in events up and down the freestyle spectrum.
In the end, Sun topped the 200, 400 and 1500 freestyle events this week and took bronze in the 100 free. He also helped Zhejiang to wins in the 400 and 800 freestyle relay events to account for his five golds, and six medals overall at the meet.
Sun has also helped to elevate the event in China as the top three swimmers all broke 15:00 tonight. Hunan training partners Yang Zhixian (14:58.09) and Wang Kechang (14:58.31) also cleared the 15:00 barrier. Yang and Wang moved to 10th and 11th, respectively, in the world rankings, bettering the 14:58.78 set by Italy’s Gabriele Detti at Italian nationals, but falling just off Pal Joensen’s controversial 14:57.76 from the World Championships in Barcelona. In case you missed it, Joensen’s 1500 free proved to be the key indicator towards allegations that there was a current in the pool in Barcelona.
Women’s 400 medley relay
Shanghai dominated the women’s 400 medley relay with the sixth-fastest time in the world this year.
Zhou Yanxin (1:00.25), Sun Ye (1:07.47), Lu Ying (57.25) and Chen Xinyi (53.46) powered to victory in 3:58.43. That performance jumped Shanghai to sixth in the world as the top non-Worlds swim this year. Previously, Italy’s 4:02.61 from the World University Games had held that distinction. Tonight, however, was not the fastest time for China this year as the national squad clocked a fourth-ranked 357.30 at Worlds to just miss the podium in Barcelona.
Liaoning’s Wang Ruiqi (1:00.92), Liu Xiaoyu (1:07.44), Wang Junyao (58.17) and Qiu Yuhan (54.10) finished second overall in 4:00.63, while Zhejiang’s Fu Yuanhui (1:00.02), He Yuzhe (1:07.99), Ye Shiwen (58.95) and Shao Yiwen (55.24) grabbed bronze in 4:02.20.
Men’s 400 medley relay
With Sun Yang sitting out the final relay of the meet, as previously predicted by his mother this week, Wu Peng had the chance to shine by himself in his final competitive swim before retiring from the sport.
Before the likes of Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen took the world by storm, Wu had carried the banner for Chinese swimming. He made the 2004 Athens Olympics at the age of 17, and continued on swimming at a world-class level for the next decade. He’s one of the very few men to be able to claim head-to-head 200 fly victories against Olympic superstar Michael Phelps, as he’s the man who ended a nearly nine-year winning streak for Phelps during the 2012 USA Swimming Grand Prix series.
Although Olympic hardware eluded Wu throughout his career, he did manage four medals in long course worlds competition. He took silver in the 200 fly at the 2007 Melbourne meet, and also picked up a trio of bronzes in the 200 fly in 2005, 2011 and 2013.
Wu’s Zhejiang team nearly downed the Chinese national record in the event as Xu Jiayu (53.67), Mao Feilian (1:00.99), Wu (51.56) and Lu Zhiwu (48.72) won in 3:34.94. That swim missed the national mark of 3:34.65 set by China at the 2012 London Games.
Guangdong’s He Jianbin (55.44), Gu Biaorong (1:00.13), Zhou Jiawei (52.06) and Yu Hexin (48.93) took second in 3:36.56, while Shanghai’s Sun Xiaolei (54.78), Chen Cheng (1:01.53), Shi Feng (51.49) and Shi Yang (49.18) clinched third in 3:36.98.