Gwangju - There
were no tears from Sun Yang on Monday, just ruthless efficiency as the
Chinese giant began the defence of his 200 metres freestyle world title
with a clinical swim in the heats.
Operating on very little sleep, the triple Olympic champion clocked 1:46.22 the morning after winning an emotionally draining battle
with Australian rival Mack Horton to capture a record fourth world
championship gold in the 400m freestyle.
American Katie Ledecky returned to the pool looking to exorcise the
ghosts of her stunning defeat by Aussie teenager Ariarne Titmus on the
first day of the swimming competition in Gwangju, posting the fastest
qualifying mark in the women's 1 500m freestyle.
Sun, whose 400m victory was his 10th world title, is competing under a
doping cloud in South Korea after being accused by independent FINA
testers of smashing blood samples with a hammer.
But he has shown no signs of stress, entering the pool deck to
ear-piercing screams from his legion of adoring female fans waving
Chinese flags and chanting their hero's name.
"I ate dinner at midnight last night and went to bed at two," Sun told reporters.
"I'm happy with my heat time after a close battle in the 400m freestyle.
The 200m is a bit of a lottery - lots of people have a chance to win
gold, but I'll give everything."
His time was pipped by Briton James Guy's 1:46.18 in the final heat,
but the controversial Sun - the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m
free - remains the strong favourite to retain his world title.
champion Ledecky logged an easy 15:48.90 in the 1 500m heats after
fading badly in the 400m final as Titmus lurked.
The Australian's coach Dean Boxall warned that the 18-year-old had awoken the beast.
"Ledecky looks pissed off, angry," he told Australian media.
going to come back - she'll be like a caged tiger coming out."
World and Olympic champion Lilly King, who last week blasted FINA's
"sketchy" doping controls, pipped Russian rival Yulia Efimova to the
fastest time in the women's 100m breaststroke heats by almost half a
The American, who refused to shake Efimova's hand after beating her
at the 2016 Rio Olympics because of a suspension the Russian had served
for taking a banned steroid, clocked 1:06.31 to ease into the evening's
"The athletes have to stand up for themselves," insisted King after her heat swim.
"It's definitely a start if these guys are taking a stand against doping."
Title holder Xu Jiayu topped the men's 100m backstroke heats, the
Chinese star touching in 52.85 with Olympic champion Ryan Murphy and
Commonwealth gold medallist Mitch Larkin also safely through.
Canada's Kylie Masse began the defence of her women's 100m backstroke title with a comfortable 58.91.
Later on Monday, Britain's Adam Peaty targets his second world record
in two days in the 100m breaststroke final while Swede Sarah Sjostrom
can become the first female swimmer to win the same world title five
times in the 100m butterfly.