Flash! FINA World Championships, Swimming: Sun Yang Downs Grant Hackett’s 1500 Free World Record

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SHANGHAI, China, July 31. CHINA's Sun Yang realized his potential in the men's 1500 free with an epic closing 50 meters to clip Grant Hackett's world record in the event at the FINA World Long Course Championships.

More than two seconds off the world-record pace nearing the end of the metric mile, Sun began throwing down incredible splits including a final 50 meters of 25.94 to claim the global standard with a 14:34.14. That performance beat the historic 14:34.56 world record set by Hackett at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka.

"After the preliminary heats, I studied the videotape and found some little things to improve," Sun said. "Ryan Cochrane is strong and powerful, and he followed me very close for the first 500 meters, which put me under pressure. I just had to focus on my own rhythm. Overall, I was relaxed during the race."

Hackett's world record was the only one on the men's side to survive the techsuit era, evidence of its noteworthy status. Sun made a run at the standard late last year, coming within a second of the Hackett mark. This time, he got the record with his closing flourish.

"I was not obsessed with the world record before the final," Sun said. "I just wanted to focus on my plan. My goal was to win gold. I'm so grateful to the whole Chinese team, including my coach and parents. I think the world record belongs to all of them."

Comparative splits:
27.08, 56.25 (29.17), 1:25.69 (29.44), 1:55.06 (29.37), 2:24.55 (29.49), 2:53.85 (29.30), 3:23.33 (29.48), 3:52.73 (29.40), 4:22.27 (29.54), 4:51.43 (29.16), 5:20.94 (29.51), 5:50.16 (29.22), 6:19.66 (29.50), 6:48.81 (29.15), 7:18.24 (29.43), 7:47.45 (29.21), 8:16.82 (29.37), 8:46.11 (29.29), 9:15.61 (29.50), 9:44.98 (29.37), 10:14.32 (29.34), 10:43.67 (29.35), 11:12.98 (29.31), 11:42.21 (29.23), 12:11.61 (29.40), 12:41.16 (29.55), 13:10.67 (29.51), 13:39.92 (29.25), 14:08.20 (28.28), 14:34.14 (25.94.)

54.19, 1:52.45 (58.26), 2:51.29 (58.84), 3:50.18 (58.89), 4:48.82 (58.64), 5:47.45 (58.63), 6:45.96 (58.51), 7:44.47 (58.51), 8:43.05 (58.58), 9:41.78 (58.73), 10:40.56 (58.78), 11:39.51 (58.95), 12:38.51 (59.00), 13:37.89 (59.38), 14:34.56 (56.67)

Sun had shown promise of becoming a special swimmer in the event with a bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships behind Ous Mellouli and Ryan Cochrane. Last year, Sun gave Hackett's record a scare with a 14:35.43 at the 2010 Asian Games, but finally put together a world-record race this evening. He is the first man from China to win the men's 1500 free world title after becoming the first man from China to medal in the event with his bronze in 2009.

"Since I won bronze in Rome two years ago, I've grown up a lot," Sun said. "With the London Games a year out, I will have to be more strict with myself and start back at zero. Hopefully, I can create miracles at the Olympics."

Canada's Ryan Cochrane took second in 14:44.46, while Hungary's Gergo Kis placed third in 14:45.66. Cochrane has his second silver medal in a row after taking second to Mellouli in 2009, while Kis gave Hungary its first medal in the event's history at Worlds.

"I am really excited," Cochrane said. "I hope I can be faster next year. My goal is to get close to the world record, and there is still a lot of work to be done."

Faroe Islands' Pal Joensen (14:46.33), USA's Chad La Tourette (14:52.36), USA's Peter Vanderkaay (15:00.47), Italy's Samuel Pizzetti (15:15.81) and Japan's Yosuke Miyamoto (15:20.67) rounded out the finale.