China’s Zhang Yufei Setting Paris Olympics Sights on 100 Fly

chinese-ZHANG Yufei CHN Women's 200m butterfly heats Swimming Men's 4x100m freestyle final Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates 17/12/21 Etihad Arena FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) Photo Giorgio Perottino / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Perottino / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

China’s Zhang Yufei Setting Paris Olympics Sights on 100 Fly

China’s Zhang Yufei assembled one of the best performances of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, with two gold medals and two silvers.

As the 24-year-old looks toward the Paris Olympics next year, her eyes are trained on the 100 fly as her main goal, she told Xinhua News Agency this week.

Zhang won the 200 fly in Tokyo by more than a second, in an Olympic record 2:03.86. She was second in the 100 fly, .05 behind Canada’s Maggie MacNeil in a star-studded field. The shorter event has grabbed her attention since then.

“The 100m butterfly is what I expect the most,” Zhang said this week. “I hope to bring it back home.”

Zhang believes she has more to improve on after Tokyo, despite an outstanding performance. In addition to the fly medals, she helped the Chinese 800 free relay win gold and swam fly on the mixed medley relay’s silver-winning team.

She’s been relatively quiet since Tokyo. At last summer’s FINA World Championships, she earned bronze medals over all three butterfly distances. She added a bronze in the 50 fly at the World Short Course Championships in Melbourne last December. (She withdrew from that meet due to an elbow injury.)

But 2023 promises to be busier and centered on the Asian continent, with Worlds in Fukuoka, Japan, in July and the rescheduled Asian Games in September in Hangzhou, just a couple of provinces over from Zhang’s native Xuzhou.

Zhang said she is taking on a larger leadership capacity within the Chinese program. (That extends beyond the pool as a deputy to the 14th National People’s Congress.) She’s also worked hard on the mental aspect of her race strategy, which she hopes will get her closer to her goals.

“For a period of time after the Tokyo Olympics, I was afraid of defeat, which brought a huge burden for me,” Zhang said. “I could not accept that I settled for silver. But after the short-course world championships at the end of last year, I felt that my winning mentality was always there but I was no longer afraid of defeat.”

Read the full interview with Zhang Yufei here.

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