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The first major signs that Zhang’s career was on a downward path emerged at last year’s national trials, where the Beijing Olympic silver medalist in the 400 free failed to earn a ticket to London after finishing the 200m and 400m free events far off the qualifying standards.
“It felt like the sky had fallen apart and I suddenly lost the goal and motivation in my life,” said Zhang, who took a break from the pool after the Olympics. […]
Keen to rediscover his form, Zhang left Beijing for California last October to practice with renowned US coach Dave Salo, the man behind the success of US Olympic champions Jessica Hardy and Rebecca Soni, for three months. […]
Although he did little of consequence in the pool, the US trip inspired him to be more mature when facing adversity. […]
He went to the market, cooked for himself and even ate microwave dumplings to save money for a physio as he received limited funds from the sport’s governing body after failing to achieve elite results in recent years.