Xu Jiayu Reportedly Hits 52.3 100 Back in Long Course Time Trial

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World Champ Xu Jiayu salutes the crowd in Gwangju after winning gold in the 100 backstroke. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Xu Jiayu and Yang Junxuan reportedly put up swift times in a time trial during a practice session with the Chinese national swim team.

With the coronavirus quarantine in China ending a few weeks ago, many members of the Chinese national team have been participating in a training camp the last few weeks that was scheduled to last from April to June. According to reports on the Chinese social media site Weibo, there were some quick times posted at a time trial on Saturday.

2019 World Champ Xu Jiayu swam a 52.37 in the 100 backstroke, which was quicker than his 52.43 he swam in winning gold at the World Championships last year. Xu was one of the favorites to win gold in Tokyo over two laps after he won silver in Rio behind American Ryan Murphy. If Xu Jiayu can touch first in the final in Tokyo, he would be the first Chinese man to ever win the event at the Games and would be the first non-American to do so since 1992.

World junior record holder Yang Junxuan reportedly swam a 1:55.06 in the 200 freestyle, which was also faster than her 1:55.43 swim at the 2019 Worlds when she finished fifth. The time was under her world junior record time but will not count since the meet was not FINA sanctioned.

Also of note, 2019 Worlds bronze medalist Yan Zibei swam a 59.5 in the 100 breaststroke while Sun Jiajun was a 52.27 in the 100 butterfly. Xu, Yan, Zhang Yufei and Yang also combined to swim a mixed medley relay and reportedly swam a 3:40.26, which would have won a bronze medal at the 2019 Worlds. China did not field a team in the mixed relay at the 2019 World Championships, but appears to be a medal contender if they choose to swim in Tokyo.

China was the first country to enter a lockdown in mid-January as the coronavirus was affecting millions of people in the country. The lockdown was lifted towards the end of April and the national swim team got together for a two-month training camp in Zhejiang. According to reports, Olympic medalists Ye Shiwen and Wang Shun are also present at the camp.

Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands, who is also an Olympic podium hopeful, swam a 59.2 in an unofficial time trial on Friday as well.

The training camp caused major controversy around the world when it was reported that suspended Sun Yang had been invited by the Chinese Swimming Federation despite the fact he was handed an eight-year doping suspension in February of this year.

Swimming World was alerted to an official notice showing that Sun was among swimmers, coaches and others invited to take part in three-month Olympic training plans from April to June. National swimming team members were informed of the invitation from the CSA (technically the ‘Swimming Management Center of the State General Administration of Sport’, under which the CSA operates), via provincial authorities.

Within hours of Swimming World alerting WADA to the situation, the CSA issued a new document stating that Sun is serving a suspension and that the previous invitation to Olympic training was void.

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The invalidation notice

“Notice No49” was invalidated in a further notice from the CSA, dated April 23, which read:

“Based on the WADA Code, Sun Yang has been banned from competition after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) made the decision. That won’t change during Sun Yang’s appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal against the CAS decision. The previous No49 document is therefore invalid.”

In a reply to Swimming World, WADA confirmed that it would contact the Chinese authorities for the avoidance of doubt:

“When an athlete has been declared ineligible, the terms of Article 10.12.1* of the World Anti-Doping Code apply. We are following up with the relevant authorities to establish the facts in this matter.” (* – see foot of the article)

The notice that included Sun in Olympic training beyond his ban was issued to the Zhejiang Sports Bureau and the Zhejiang Swimming Team. It points out that the three-month training camp was aimed at ensuring a continuation of training at a challenging time of coronavirus pandemic.

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