Xu Jiayu Checks in With 200 Back Win at Chinese Nationals; Qualifying Affected By Controversial Fitness Testing

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Xu Jiayu - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Xu Jiayu Checks in With 200 Back Win at Chinese Nationals; Qualifying Affected By Controversial Fitness Testing

The two-time defending world champion in the 100 backstroke, Xu Jiayu proved his worth over twice that distance as the Chinese National Championships continued in Qingdao on Sunday. Xu prevailed in the 200 backstroke in 1:55.26, a performance that suggests he is set for a superb effort in his upcoming prime event.

Xu figures to contend for the Olympic crown in the 100 backstroke next year in Tokyo. He was the silver medalist at the 2016 Games, won by American Ryan Murphy.

The National Champs have not gone without some controversy. To qualify for the final in each event, not only do athletes have to finish in the top eight in preliminaries, but they must also have achieved specific physical-fitness performances in tests conducted before the start of the meet. If athletes did not meet the standards set for the tests, they were not permitted to advance to the finals, regardless of how fast they raced in prelims.

An example was Yu Hexin in the 50 freestyle. Despite setting a Chinese record of 21.79 in the sprint event, Yu was denied a place in the final. Since she did not meet the testing standards, Wang Jianjiahe will not compete in the upcoming final of the 1500 freestyle, despite producing an Asian record of 15:45.59 in the prelims.

In other finals, Wang Xueer won the women’s 100 backstroke in 59.55 while Ji Xinjie topped the field in the men’s 400 freestyle with a mark of 3:48.87. In the women’s 200 breaststroke, Zheng Muyan beat Ye Shiwen, 2:27.08 to 2:27.57.

In prelim action, Zhang Yufei set a Chinese record of 52.90 in the women’s 100 freestyle while Wang Shun paced qualifying in the men’s 400 individual medley with an effort of 4:13.36.

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