Asian Games: Bling Dynasty! China Hope Swim King Sun Will Shine

Updated: 16 September 2014 16:41 IST

Sun Yang shot to fame in London two years ago by becoming the first Chinese man to capture Olympic swimming gold when he stormed to the 400 metres and 1500m freestyle titles.

Asian Games: Bling Dynasty! China Hope Swim King Sun Will Shine
File photo of Sun Yang. © AFP

Beijing:

China are hoping their swim king Sun Yang can turn over a new leaf and shake off his bling and bad boy image as he heads to South Korea for this month's Asian Games.

Sun, well known for his penchant for fast cars, glamorous women and Western pop music, is the history-making Olympic champion whose explosive talent is often matched by his ability to court controversy.

But China will hope the bust-ups and suspensions are a thing of the past as the towering Sun spearheads his country's charge in the pool at Incheon, where they are expected to face fierce competition from the host nation and Japan. (Also Read: What to Expect From India at Asian Games)

Sun shot to fame in London two years ago by becoming the first Chinese man to capture Olympic swimming gold when he stormed to the 400 metres and 1500m freestyle titles.

A world championship treble in Barcelona last year underlined his status as one of the sport's biggest stars.

He made headlines for all the wrong reasons last November, however, when he was arrested for driving his Porsche without a licence after colliding with a bus in his hometown of Hangzhou and locked up for a week. (Asian Games: Five Memorable Moments)

Chinese sports chiefs unsurprisingly took a dim view of Sun's antics and promptly banned him for six months, slamming him for "violating the basic principles of morality", according to state media.

He was also embroiled in a public row with his coach after reacting furiously to being ordered to end his dalliance with a flight attendant, and accused of breaking team curfews to sneak out for clandestine dates.

It was also claimed that Sun -- a big Avril Lavigne fan who wanted to become a pop star as a child -- protested by refusing to train.

The athlete's prickly streak certainly polarises popular opinion in China, where critics have complained he lacks respect.

- Winning return -

But there is little doubt the 1.98m (6ft 6in) Sun, who holds the world record for the 1,500m freestyle, is crucial to his country's Asian Games hopes, having returned from suspension in May by winning the national 200m title, clocking an impressive 1min 46.04sec.

He is expected to concentrate on the shorter distances in Incheon, adding spice to the men's 200m and 400m freestyle, which look set to be a three-way scrap between Sun, South Korea's Park Tae-Hwan and the Japanese Kosuke Hagino.

"I'm slowly getting back the levels of oxygen capacity and speed that I had at the London Olympics," Sun told the Nanjing Morning Post.

"In the short distances my level has even surpassed my Olympics standard," he added, firing a warning to his rivals.

"I have also seen other (competitors') performances and as long as I maintain my systematic training, it won't be difficult for me to reach that same level."

Sun and Park dead-heated for the 200m silver medal at the London Olympics behind Frenchman Yannick Agnel.

The Korean tipped out Sun for gold at the last Asian Games in Guangzhou four years ago, giving the Chinese extra incentive to put the record straight in Park's home country.

China scooped 24 of the 38 swimming gold medals in Guangzhou and will need Sun to be on song to boost the team's bid to hold off the challenge of South Korea, and from a Japan team buoyed by their recent success at the Pan Pacific championships in Australia.

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Topics : Swimming Asian Games 2014 Other Sports
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