Three-Time Olympian Wu Peng Back at Chinese Nationals after 10-Year Retirement

Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

Three-Time Olympian Wu Peng Back at Chinese Nationals after 10-Year Retirement

Three-time Olympian Wu Peng is staging a comeback in the pool at Chinese Spring Nationals this week, a decade after he retired from competitive swimming.

Wu, 36, represented China at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, the first when he was just 17 years of age. He famously defeated Michael Phelps in the 200 fly twice in 2011, ending a nine-year winning streak for Phelps. He tied for fourth in the 200 fly at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing with New Zealand’s Moss Burmester and was the only Chinese man to make an Olympic final in 2004. He trained for stints with Mission Viejo and Club Wolverine in the United States.

Lighter and competing in shorter events, Wu is swimming this week in Qingdao. He earned a spot at May’s national championships with a time of 23.81 in the 50 freestyle. His aim is to swim at the Asian Games in the fall, to be held in his home city of Hangzhou.

“I felt nervous before the race, and I could not sleep well last night,” Wu told Xinhua News Agency. “I felt rusty during the 50 meters, so I could not help taking several breaths, when I would usually hold my breath during the whole race.”

Wu said he lost “six or seven kilograms” in preparation for this event. He’ll swim the 50 and 100 fly later in the week, but he’s not planning to reprise his role as a 200 butterflier.

Wu won silver in the 200 fly at the 2007 World Championships in that event. He added bronze medals in 2005, 2011 and 2013, the latter his final major international event ahead of his retirement. Wu won gold at the 2006 Short-Course World Championships in Shanghai two years after capturing bronze. He’s also a four-time Asian Games gold medalist in events like the 200 fly, 200 back and 400 individual medley.

Wu swam the 200 fly and 200 IM at the London Olympics in 2012 and both butterfly events and both IMs at the 2004 Games. Wu still holds the Chinese long-course record in the 200 fly at 1:54.35 from the 2008 Games.

“The national record of 200m is still mine, but I will not try to break it anymore,” he said. “I can only compete in sprint events like the 50m.”

The Asian Games in Hangzhou is a goal for Wu, who first swam in the Asian Games 21 years ago.

For the last 10 years, I was on the pool deck in the audience, but this time, I want to jump into the pool and compete again for my hometown,” he said.

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