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The existence of Tang Yan and Sun Yang, a former world record holder, and a current world record holder, gave the 1500 meters additional attention.
When warming up before the race, the two naturally couldn’t escape the pursuit of the reporter’s.
Because Tang Yan also had the medley relay race that same morning, he went ash.o.r.e after two laps.
Immediately after coming up, he was surrounded by reporters. Most of them were domestic reporters, but there were also foreign reporters.
“Tang Yan, there are many netizens and experts, suggesting that you selectively abandon an event. What’s your opinion on this?”
“Tang Yan, your main opponent today is likely to be your teammate Sun Yang. Previously he defeated you at the national champions.h.i.+ps, are you confident in defeating him or is the plan to strategically give up and leave this gold medal to Sun Yang whilst keeping your strength for the 4X100 medley relay?”
Tang Yan didn’t show much interest in the questions from the reporters, but the last question made him frown.
He looked over at the reporter who asked the question.
It was a foreign reporter and the press card on her chest showed that she was a reporter for beIN Sports – Australia.
Faced with this pitted question, Tang Yan answered unceremoniously.
“The biggest charm of compet.i.tive sports is compet.i.tion. Better opponents inspire stronger self. Just because the opponent is my teammate I have to give up? That’s not my style even if others prefer to rig their races, I don’t. I compete to the best of my ability everytime no matter the situation.”
The Australian reporter frowned, but not waiting for her to answer. Tang Yan continued and said “As for 1500m and the 4X100 relay race why would I quit one and pretty much give away a medal!”
As soon as this remark was made, the reporters looked surprised.
1500 meters needed long-distance endurance, while the 4X100 relay race needs super explosive power for a short period. Most could never consider completing the two projects in succession, their physical fitness would be stretched to its limits but Tang Yan talked about it with ease.
How confident would you have to be to speak like that!
The Australian reporter was speechless for a while. She originally wanted to use this chance to sow discontent between Tang Yan and Sun Yang and get some negative info about the Chinese swimming team but Tang Yan’s answer flipped her question and insinuations back on her, ruining her plans and stuck for a retort.
Coming out of the pool, Sun Yang was also surrounded. When the reporter recounted what Tang Yan had said in the previous interview, he expressed the same sentiment as Tang Yan. Only with strong opponents could you pressure and motivate yourself to perform better.
There were four groups for the 1500-meters group stage. According to the rules, the eight best performers would advance to the evening finals.
Sun Yang placed in the first group, while Tang Yan was in the fourth group.
Maybe it was because of the interview before the match or because he didn’t have the pressure of partic.i.p.ating in the 4X100m medley relay after Sun Yang chose to come out full force and his outstanding performance attracted a loud round of cheers and applause.
In the end, his time was fixed at 14 minutes 38 seconds 35, just 3 second away from the world record he set at the national champions.h.i.+ps.
This outstanding performance caused netizens and experts to solidify their stance. Sun Yang has bound for gold.
Compared with the first group, the second and third groups were a bit dull. The swimmers were somewhat reserved. Canadian star Ryan Cochran and Hungarian star Gergi Kish, both advanced to the finals in the evening.
Tang Yan was in the last group, a perfect setup for him.
With the previous three groups already finished and their results out, he only needed to ensure that he reached the finals, allowing him to minimize his physical exertion.
His final time was 14 minutes 45 seconds 23, ranking second in the group, and seventh overall to sneak into the evening finals.
After the 1500-meter qualifiers, Tang Yan had a couple hours to recover. By the end of the afternoon, he ushered in another crucial qualifier.
The focus of relay events was to reflect the overall swimming standard of a country.
Among the three relay events, the one with the highest attention and the highest appreciation was the 4X100 medley relay.
Because it included four swimming styles, in order to win gold, all four swimming styles required expert swimmers.
It was prime for countries such as Australia, Italy, Russia.
And there were special cases, such as France and the United States. The former’s backstroke and b.r.e.a.s.t.stroke were top level, and they could often gain an advantage in the first 200 meters. The United States team was reverse dominating b.u.t.terfly and freestyle strokes to achieve the final victory.
The 4X100m medley relay had two groups. The top four teams overall would qualify for the evening finals.
In the Chinese group was the US team, the j.a.panese team and the French team all in one group. It was bound to be an intense journey to the final.
Song Xiaocheng: “Great moments are born from great opportunity and that’s what you have here today, a chance to really stamp your names into people’s minds but it starts from here, qualifying for the finals. Our group is a tough one but it’s nothing we can’t overcome. You feel those b.u.t.terflies in your stomach now…when we walk out that door, they turn to dragons. Because they get bigger and they get stronger and we use them. And those dragons are going to breathe fire.”
He finished his speech whilst locking eyes with Tang Yan.
Following Song Xiaocheng’s gaze the others also looked over and sensing their gazes Tang Yan nodded looking back with confidence.
Tang Yan was now their backbone. As long as this backbone was present, they had the confidence to fight.
This time the Chinese team sent up a youth-oriented lineup. The backstroke and b.r.e.a.s.t.stroke swimmers were Xu Jiayu and Li Xiang. Of the four, only the b.u.t.terfly swimmer was a veteran, Zhou Jiawei.
The lineup was made to help a.s.similate these up and coming fresh faces into the team as the older swimmers were being slowly phased out.
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