Olympics 2012 swimming: Ye Shiwen hits back at critics after remarks over Olympic gold
Beijing: Relishing global spotlight, Chinese swimming prodigy Ye Shiwen dismissed doubts of doping about her two gold-winning performances in London Games, saying that the allegations are "bit unfair" but wants to know why she is being targeted even after she was cleared of the charges.
Handling bouquets and brickbats with a sense of ease, the 16-year-old Ye, who is now famously known all over her country and the world as YE`S, said, "the allegations are a little bit unfair, but I am not affected by them at all."
Asked by the state media whether the allegations were rooted in bias against China, Ye, who was grilled at the press meet by foreign media even after she was cleared of doping charges by coaches of her rivals, said, "It`s possible. Nobody ever suspected other countries` multi-gold medal winners. Why doubt me? I just won two."
On the front pages of every Chinese newspaper and flooded with encomium by millions of compatriots on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, Ye said she is relishing the headlines, "Yeah! She Won".
Started swimming at the age of six after her kindergarten teacher noticed she had much larger hands and feet than other children, Ye shattered the world record for the 400m individual medley with an eye-catching last-leg freestyle sprint on Saturday, which brought her under the microscope, with pundits alleging that her last 50 meters of 28.93 sec, faster than US swimmer Ryan Lochte`s equivalent in the male event, could only be possible by drug use.
John Leonard, the head of the American Swimming Coaches Association, said, "Every time we see something unbelievable, history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved."
Ye`s counterpart Sun Yang, who also made history by being China`s first male gold medalist swimmer after winning the 400m freestyle, was quick to offer his support.
"The doubt is unfair and does not take account of the effort involved. The Americans can win many gold medals without being questioned, but we can`t," he said.
Colin Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, said, "She`s been through World Anti-Doping Agency`s (WADA) program and she`s clean. That`s the end of the story. She deserves recognition for her talent."
China`s anti-doping chief revealed Chinese athletes have undergone nearly 100 drug tests ever since arriving in London, and not a single one has tested positive.
"Ye`s great talent was recognised at an early age and her performance vindicates her," Xu Qi, head of the Chinese swimming team, told Xinhua News Agency.
"Don`t use your suspicions to knock down others."
Ye, an admirer of US swimming sensation Michael Phelps, attributed her rise to what every great athlete attributes their rise to -- hard work.
She underwent gruelling training in Brisbane, Australia with two renowned coaches Dennis Cotterell and Ken Wood after last year`s Shanghai Worlds.
She normally spent five hours every day in the pool for nine years and in Australia she was able to fine-tune her stroke efficiency, starting and turning.
Cotterell, Australian distance swimmer Grant Hackett`s mentor, said Ye had `unparalleled gifts`.
"She`s a little girl with a lot of strength and power. She may even get better given that she`s improved a lot in Australia," Cotterell told China`s state run CCTV.
Meanwhile, Brazil`s freestyle sprinter Cesar Cielo, who won the 50m free at the Beijing Olympics, believed Ye`s last 50m achievement could be easily explained.
"I think it`s possible (for a woman to outperform a man in last leg sprint)," Cielo told China Daily.
"She`s 16. I think she can swim fast because the structure of her body really makes a lot of difference in terms of speed."
With all eyes on Ye`s incredible-fast last sprint, her world-record time was still 23 seconds slower than Lochte`s winning time, and many other male swimmers were faster than Ye over the final 50m.
Ye made her first splash at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games by bagging 200m and 400m in the individual medley before hitting international headlines at last year`s Worlds, where she won the 200m.
The US team women`s head coach Teri Mckeever said people questioned Ye`s results out of context (of her previous races).
"Unfortunately, some people just jump to conclusions when they see something they think was impossible. It`s not like we haven`t seen her before, she`s won a world championship," she said.
Michael Phelps` coach Bob Bowman said performances like Ye`s do happen.
"She is taking advantage of size, hands and feet," he said.
Support from Bowman is a great motivation for Ye, who regards Phelps as her idol. She hopes to emulate his achievements.
"He`s been a model for me for many years. I hope I can win as many medals as he did but all I can do is to try my best," Ye said.