Sun Yang


Sun Yang is a Chinese Olympic and world-record-holding distance swimmer. He swam for China at the 2008 Olympics. At the 2010 Asian Games, he won the men's 1500m freestyle in an Asian Record; this swim and his two other medals at the Games were cited in his being named the Rookie of the Year at the 2010 CCTV Sports Awards. At the 2011 World Championships, Sun broke the world record in the 1500 metre freestyle, set by Grant Hackett in 2001 and the longest-held world record in swimming at the time it was broken, and the only men's swimming record to not have been beaten during the techsuit era. He won the 400 m and 1500 m freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics, becoming the first Chinese man ever to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming. At the 2012 Olympics, he was one of two male swimmers to win two individual titles, the other being Michael Phelps.

Swimming career

Although Sun Yang had been swimming for several years, his international breakthrough happened at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. At the age of 16, Sun placed 28th in the 400 m freestyle (3:50.90), unable to reach the final. He rebounded from this by qualifying seventh fastest for the 1500 m freestyle in a time of 14:48.39. In the final he would go on to swim much slower and finish dead last in the Olympic final (15:05.12). This was just beginning of his career, as the following year at the World Championships in Rome, he would go on to win his first international medal with a bronze in the 1500 freestyle with a time of 14:46.84. He also placed 18th in the 400 freestyle (3:47.51).

2010 Asian Games

Sun Yang's big breakthrough happened at the 2010 Asian Games. Here, Sun won gold medals in the 1500 freestyle, 4x200 freestyle relay, and silver medals in the 200 and 400 freestyle. On note, his 1500 freestyle time of 14:35.43 was a new Asian record and the second fastest time in history, only second to Grant Hackett. This led many to believe that Sun would inevitably break Hackett's hallowed mark.

2011 World Aquatics Championships

On the first day of competition, Sun placed second in the 400 freestyle, losing to Park Tae-Hwan in a time of 3:43.24. Three days later, he would go on to win his first World Championship title in the 800 freestyle with a time of 7:38.57. After a day of rest he would go on to anchor the China team to a bronze medal in the 4×200 freestyle relay. On the final day of competition, Sun competed in the 1500 freestyle. By the time the final 50 meters rolled around, there was no question Sun would win, it was whether the world record would be broken. Over a second above the record however, it seemed unlikely. However, Sun was able to charge the final 50 m like no one else and break Grant Hacketts ten year old world record in a 14:34.14, compared to Hackett's 14:34.56.

2012 Summer Olympics

Coming into the Games, Sun was a favorite in the 400 m and 1500 m freestyles as well as a medal contender in the 200 m freestyle. In his first event on day one, the 400 m freestyle, Sun won in a time 3:40.14, becoming the first Chinese male swimmer to win a gold medal at the Olympics. Of note, his time was also the third fastest effort in history, 0.07 sec off the world record, and a new Asian record. After a day of rest, he competed in the 200 m freestyle. In the final, he raced himself to a silver, tying with Park Tae-Hwan in a time of 1:44.93, a new national record. The following day, Sun would anchor the Chinese team to a bronze in the 4×200 freestyle relay, their first ever in the event. After the relay he would not be back in the pool until the final day of competition, where he would compete in his best event, the 1500 freestyle. After easily breezing into the final as the fastest qualifier, it seemed as though he would win by a longshot. However, after getting up on the blocks, a step down was commenced, but Sun had already dove in. In most cases, this would result in an automatic disqualification, but after it became clear that crowd noise was the main factor, Sun was back in. He won the race in a time of 14:31.02, a new world record by over 3 seconds and over 8 seconds ahead of second place finisher Ryan Cochrane. These results made Sun the most successful Chinese male swimmer in Olympic history. Sun was the first swimmer to win the 400/1500 double since Vladimir Salnikov at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Its also worth noting that his final 50 m of the race was a 25.68, nearly two seconds faster then second place finisher Ryan Cochrane.

Major achievements

2006 National Winter Championships – 1st 400m/1500m free;
2006 National Marathon Swimming Tournament – 1st 10 km free;
2007 National Champions Tournament – 2nd 400m/1500m free;
2007 National Championships – 1st 1500m free;
2007 National Intercity Games – 1st 1500m free;
2008 "Good Luck Beijing" Swimming Olympic Qualification – 2nd 400m free
2008 Olympics – 28th 400m free, 8th 1500m free
2009 World Championships – 3rd 1500m free
2010 Asian Games – 1st 1500m free (Asian Record)
2011 World Aquatics Championships – 1st 1500m free (World Record), 1st 800m free, 2nd 400m free
2012 Summer Olympics – 1st 400m free (Olympic Record)
2012 Summer Olympics – 2nd 200m free
2012 Summer Olympics – 1st 1500m free (World Record)