Sun eager to shine in freestyle titles' defence

VICTIM OF FAME: After his success in the pool, Sun did not manage his life well on dry land. He was caught for driving without a licence, hauled up for doping and got into arguments with his ex-coach.


    Jul 21, 2016

    Sun eager to shine in freestyle titles' defence

    CHINESE swimming ace Sun Yang hopes a successful defence of his titles at next month's Rio de Janeiro Olympics will finally purge the controversies that have engulfed him in recent years.

    As arguably the most renowned of the 416 Chinese athletes competing in Rio, he has endured a rocky ride - including a detention for driving without a licence, disputes with his former coach and a doping violation - since winning two golds at the 2012 London Games.

    Despite the distractions, the 24-year-old has rekindled his ambition to scoop up more gold in Brazil.

    His supremacy in freestyle continued at the World Championships, where he won a combined five golds in the 400m, 800m and 1,500m in Barcelona 2013 and Kazan 2015, becoming one of the most decorated swimmers in the world.

    But the sudden fame proved too overwhelming.

    He was suspended after quarrelling with long-term mentor Zhu Zhigen over his romance with an airline stewardess and disputes over engaging in too many commercial activities.

    In November 2013, he was ordered to spend a week in detention for driving without a licence after a car accident in Hangzhou.

    The worst blow came in May 2014 when Sun tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine during the national championship.

    The Chinese Swimming Association immediately slapped him with a three-month ban.

    After experiencing so many ups and downs, Sun said he has learnt how to better manage himself away from the pool.

    "I think I've grown more mature; I won't have a second chance to experience the prime of my athletic career, so I am fully investing my time and energy in the pool," he said.

    Sun will compete in the 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle in Rio.

    He will join Ning Zetao, men's 100m freestyle world champion, as the country's best gold-medal hopes.