Shanghai: China`s Sun Yang broke Grant Hackett`s 1,500 metres freestyle world record on Sunday to take world championships gold and stake his claim to succeed the Australian as king of long-distance swimming.
The 19-year-old Sun clocked 14 minutes 34.14 seconds after a blistering final 100 metres to eclipse the 14:34.56 the now retired Hackett set in Fukuoka in 2001.
It had been the longest-standing record still on the books following a glut of records at the last world championships in Rome in 2009 when swimmers wearing the now banned polyurethane swimsuits set 43 records.
Canada`s Ryan Cochrane took the silver in 14:44.46, while Hungary`s Gergo Kis won bronze in 14:45.66.
"The coach told me before the race to focus on the gold medal and not to worry about breaking the world record," Sun said.
"It`s not surprising, I had thought about it (breaking the record) before," he added in reference to the 14:35.43 he achieved at the Asian Games last year.
The gangly Sun, who had also won the 800 freestyle in Shanghai, controlled the race from start to finish.
While Cochrane kept within a body length of the 19-year-old Chinese for the first half, he was unable to stay with him after that and Sun kicked away.
Sun had looked unlikely to break Hackett`s record as he was slipping consistently outside the world record split times until the final 300 metres when he noticeably accelerated his pace.
He was more than two seconds outside Hackett`s time when he heard the bell at 1400 metres but somehow found the energy to produce an amazing 25.94 seconds over the final length of the pool at the Oriental Sports Centre to break the record.