Sun Yang Using Champions Swim Series As Training For Tokyo 2020 With CAS Decision Looming

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Sun Yang - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Sun Yang was all smiles and full of plans for 2020 on the eve of the FINA Champions Swim Series in Shenzhen, China, with a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that will determine his future just days away.

There had been confusion over whether the Chinese would compete after conflicting reports in the lead-up to the event at the Shenzhen Universiade Center Swimming Natatorium but he joined compatriot and 2012 double Olympic champion Ye Shiwen, triple world medallist Nicholas Santos, of Brazil, and Denmark’s 2016 Olympic medley relay bronze medallist Jeanette Ottesen at a press conference.

Sun faces a ban of two to eight years if found guilty following that fateful night in September 2018 when an out-of-competition doping test ended with the smashing of a vial containing his blood sample and fingers pointed by the Chinese and his entourage who questioned the credentials of the testers.

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

However, Sun was looking only to the Olympic Games in July this year where – if free to compete – he will bid to add to the three Olympic titles he won in 2012 and 2016, with the competition in Shenzhen part of his training programme.

He said:

“I take this competition as an additional opportunity to train and set up successful routines for my swimming.”

Sun will race against Danas Rapsys over 200m and 400m freestyle, the Lithuanian whose disqualification after touching first in the final of the four-length race at the World Championships last July saw Duncan Scott elevated on to a podium he refused to share with the Chinese.

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Stand-off: Britain’s Duncan Scott, right, refuses to pose with Sun Yang, flanked by Katsuhiro Matsumoto, left, and Martin Malyutin, after the 200m free medals ceremony – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Sun also clashed with Mack Horton in Gwangju, South Korea, and there have been reports of other confrontations but he expressed only goodwill at the press conference which was also attended by FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu and Zhou Jihong, the president of the Chinese Swimming Association and FINA bureau member.

Sun said:

“I wish the best luck to all swimmers and I am sure it will be a great competition.

“I am quite familiar with this city, as in 2011, I was invited to be part of the Opening Ceremony of the Universiade.

“I also had the opportunity to swim here, and every time I see the Natatorium I see things improving.”

Ye has also found herself in the spotlight when, aged 16, she swam the final 50 of the 400IM quicker than Ryan Lochte in the men’s equivalent at London 2012.

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Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

There were no further medals in global waters until Gwangju last year when she took silver behind Katinka Hosszu in the 200 and 400IM as well as fourth in the 200m breaststroke.

Now 23, Ye will take on Hosszu and Sydney Pickrem, third at worlds, in the 200IM as well as Yu Yiting, who reached the semis in South Korea aged 13.

She will also face Pickrem in the 200m breaststroke plus Italy’s Martina Carraro and fellow Chinese Yu Jingyao.

Ye outlined her ambitions for the event and beyond to Tokyo.

“It’s the first 2020 rendezvous, so I expect I can swim well and beat my own expectations. I will swim three events in the Olympic Games – 200m breast, 200m IM and 400m IM – and I expect to be on the podium in each of these races.”

Santos, who turns 40 on Valentine’s Day next month, will compete in the 50 fly against 2019 silver medallist Oleg Kostin, double European champion Andriy Govorov and Michael Andrew, 4×1 medley relay silver medallist.

Santos said: “It’s my second time in the series and I sincerely loved the inaugural edition in 2019.

“I swam pretty fast, I even improved a South American record, so I hope I can still do it better this year. I really like the format of the Series, with four swimmers per race and direct finals – there is no place for mistakes!”

It is the first appearance for Ottesen who was “happy and thankful for being here”, the Dane set to compete in the 50 and 100 fly where she will face Hosszu, Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Elena di Liddo.

 

 

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