Inside Sun Yang's success

By Lu Na
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 7, 2012
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Sun Yang holds the national flag after winning the gold medal in the men's 1500-meter freestyle at the London Olympics.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Sun Yang became the first Chinese man to earn a gold medal in swimming, winning both the 400m and 1,500m freestyle events. But Sun's London triumph was no chance victory ― it was the result of years of perseverance as well as a superior training strategy.

In quest for Olympic gold, Sun followed a strategy of "Going Out and Bringing In." After swimming for China in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Sun began on-and-off training in Australia. The techniques he learned overseas paid off – he later went on to break the Asian record for the 1,500m freestyle at the 2010 Asia games in Guangzhou, and then the world record in the 1,500m in the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, winning that event and also the 800m freestyle. In May 2011, Sun went to Australia twice to train with famed coach Denis Cotterell, setting the stage for his explosive performance at the London Olympics.

According to the Beijing Evening Newspaper, Sun's top-notch training came at great cost, requiring a huge financial commitment from his team. Retaining Cotterell, one of Australia's top coaches, required roughly 1 million yuan (US$156,991) per year. Additionally, sponsorship of Sun Yang and his accompanying staff of trainers and assistants costs approximately 300,000 yuan (US$47,098) per month. So far, Sun's team has spent nearly 10 million yuan (US$1.57 million) for his two years of training down under.

Despite the huge price tag, a Chinese industry veteran says Cotterell's expertise was worth every bit spent. "He has taught a lot of world-class long distance freestyle stars such as Grant Hackett throughout his long teaching career. He has [compiled] an effective training method, which has made us convinced."

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