Barcelona: Chinese star swimmer Sun Yang has become the new king of distance freestyle swimming as he completed a hat-trick of world titles after winning the 1,500m final with a commanding performance at the world championships.
Sun collected the 400m, 800m and 1,500 freestyle golds here in the swimming world championships that ended Sunday, matching a feat previously achieved only by Australian Grant Hackett in the 2005 Montreal Worlds, reports Xinhua.
The 21-year-old won the final in 14 minutes 41.15 seconds Sunday, with Canada`s Ryan Cochrane 1.33 seconds back for silver and Italy`s Gregorio Paltrinieri 4.22 adrift in third.
"I just tried to convince myself to stay as close to Cochrane as possible because I knew I could go faster in the last 100m," said Sun, who kissed his fist after winning the final.
Sun was the biggest favourite of the event. He became the leading light of Chinese swimming when he tore up Grant Hackett`s 10-year-old 1,500m record at the 2011 Shanghai Worlds - a mark he lowered again at the Olympics.
He admitted that a disruptive year in which he changed coach meant he wasn`t in the best condition to break the record for a third consecutive major championships.
"This is a very difficult gold medal for me. I felt very tired in the first 1,000m," he said.
"After the Olympics I had to overcome a lot of problems, but I have come back and learned a lot through this process," he said. "My training was not systematic and that is why I was not in condition for a world record."
Sun rocketed to join basketball giant Yao Ming and tennis queen Li Na as Chinese sports icons after winning two golds at the 2012 London Games, but he went through a difficult year after the Games.
Sun`s most incredible performance in Barcelona was in the men`s 4X200m freestyle relay Friday. He was fifth when he got into the water, but produced the best split of the race to swim his final leg in 1:43.96 and give China a miraculous bronze medal.
The time was even faster than Frenchman Yannick Agnel`s winning time at the 200m freestyle final, which was 1:44.20.