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Sun Apr 20 15:40:40 SAST 2014

Hard work pays of but I’m no Phelps, says Sun

Karolos Grohmann, Reuters | 05 August, 2012 10:570 Comments
*** BESTPIX *** Olympics Day 8 - Swimming
Sun Yang of China celebrates after winning the men's 1500m freestyle final on day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 4, 2012 in London, England. Sun recorded a world record time for the event with a time of 14:31.02
Image by: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Sun Yang feared he had been disqualified on Saturday after a false start at the 1500 metres freestyle but China’s new poster boy won his second gold medal at the Olympics with a record-breaking performance that was down to hard work, he said.

He had fallen into the water thinking the race was on but instead of the starter it was a spectator’s whistle that had triggered the false start.

“At that moment I was so scared, everything went blank before my eyes,” Sun told reporters.

“I heard ‘take your mark’ and then I did not think he would say ‘quiet please,’” said the soft-spoken 20-year-old.

The starter took an instant decision not to disqualify Sun, who went on to become the first swimmer to complete the 400m-1500m double since 1980.

“I really cried at the finish because I was afraid of that false start. I was so relieved I could finish.”

“In the water I could hear so it was clear. In the last 15 metres I felt I could break the record. I still had reserves because I had not pushed my body to the limit.”

Sun smashed his own record with a silky performance in the gruelling 30-lap race to earn his fourth medal in total at the Games.

Asked whether he was on track to match American Michael Phelps, who won his 22nd Olympic medal minutes later in the men’s medley relay, Sun said he was a long way away.

“I am not yet Michael Phelps. I still have to make a lot of effort. The greatest athlete is Michael Phelps. He has now 22 medals.”

Sun, the first Chinese man to win an Olympic gold in swimming, said his success was purely the result of hard work and talk of doping was unfounded.

Earlier in the week his teammate Ye Shiwen, also a double gold medalist at the Games, was the object of a doping discussion due to her stunning performances in London’s Aquatics Centre.

“Every day, every day, it is work,” said Sun. “I went to Australia, it was winter. But despite the cold and dizziness I got up every morning. It was painful. At 4,30 every morning. My parents were with me and came with me.

“Those doubters and critics who say China has so many medals in swimming is because of doping I say it is thanks to hard work. Ye also worked very hard.

“Chinese are not weaker than the Americans or other countries,” he said as several Chinese reporters applauded.

“The United States have done it and the Europeans have done it so why can’t a Chinese do it.”

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