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Pang First Past A-Grade Post At China Nationals

Sep 27, 2007  - Craig Lord

Pang Jiaying, 22, became the first swimmer in three days at the Chinese nationals in Chongqing to set an Olympic A qualification standard, her 1:58.34 over 200m freestyle a best time in two years.

That effort will not guarantee Pang a place at a home Olympic Games next year - there are several events at which Chinese swimmers can qualify for Beijing 2008 - but it confirmed her as China's top 200m racer and one of those who will make China a medal hope over 4x200m. Pang's best is a 1:57.95, from 2005, while her second best, of 1:58.06 dates back to 2004.

Pang has some way to go before she challenges the China record: the 1:56.89 clocked by Lu Bin behind one of the most spectacular swims in history, that of Franziska van Almsick, of Germany, two years after she won four Olympic medals at the 1992 Games in Barcelona as a 14-year-old, was one of a number of dubious performances by the Golden Flowers at the world championships in Rome 1994.

Lu Bin would later test positive for steroids along with several others in a spot check at Hiroshima Airport on their way to the Asian Games in the wake of a set of performances in Rome that will forever remain in the book of swims that lacked credibility.

'I came here just for meeting the Olympic A qualification standard in the 200 meters freestyle,' Pang told Xinhua. 'I felt great after winning the 100 meters freestyle on Monday. Therefore, I was very confident in the 200 meters event.'

National teammates Tang Yi and Yang Yu trailed in 2:00.48 and 2:00.53, well outside the Olympic standard they need to meet.

Pang later raced the freestyle leg of the medley relay alongside national squad teammates, for a 4:09.17 victory.

Elsewhere, world medallist Wu Peng, 20, took out the 200m butterfly in a lacklustre 1:58.43 seconds. He said: 'I'm too tired to consider the result. But I had never thought about losing the national title as long as I competed in the event.'

Another clearly in heavy training was Zhang Lin, who suffered defeat over 1,500m freestyle at the hands of 16-year-old Sun Yang 18-year-old Zu Lijun. Zhang's 15:24.49 effort was well down on a best of 15:00.27, but Sun fell a fraction shy of best to win in 15:14.99, ahead of Zu's 15:19.85, a best by almost two seconds.

China is expected to produce more interesting results at the National City Games in Wuhan late next month, while Peng and other Beijing medal hopes are scheduled to spend November training in the United States.

Among other winners at the nationals: Zhao Tao, Chinese Navy, in 2:01.18 over 200m backstroke; and Sun Ye, of Shanghai, in 2:28.96 over 200m breaststroke (but no sign of Qun Wang, a 2:26 swimmer two years ago at 15 years of age and one of several key names missing from the Chongqing meet).