The head coach of Chinese swimming team has tried to keep a low key ahead of July’s world championships in Kazan, Russia, saying that it looks a mission impossible to repeat their feat of winning five gold medals at the last worlds.
“It will be very tough for us to win five titles as we did last time in Barcelona, because top swimmer Sun Yang is yet to reach peak form,” Yao Zhengjie told Xinhua Thursday after the conclusion of the Chines national swimming championships.
Sun Yang, who claimed three individual freestyle gold medals at the Barcelona worlds in 2013, swept four freestyle events – 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m – at the national championships, held this week in Baoji, Shaanxi Province.
But, his 200m free time, 1:45.75, was slower than German veteran Paul Biedermann, who timed 1:45.60 in the German championships. Sun’s 400m free time, 3:44.53, ranked fourth in the world, while his signature 1,500m free time, 15:00.73, was only sixth on the global ranks and far behind his own world record.
Australia’s 18-year-old Mack Horton, who holds the world fastest time in three events, is expected to be Sun’s main threat in Kazan.
“Sun trained well in Australia, but the results here were not so good,” said Yao. “It’s probably because it is his first competition this year, and hopefully he will swim better at the Kazan Worlds.”
Similarly, double Olympic champion Ye Shiwen is struggling for form despite winning two medleys at the Nationals. Ye, who failed to win a medal at the 2013 Barcelona Worlds, ranked seventh in the 200m while fourth in the 400m in the world.