Li Bingjie looks back on Olympic journey

(Xinhua) 08:48, August 13, 2021

Li Bingjie on her way to setting a new Asian record during the women's 400m freestyle heat at Tokyo 2020 on July 25, 2021. (Xinhua/Ding Xu)

SHIJIAZHUANG, China, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- After breaking the world record to win the women's 4x200m freestyle relay and setting a new Asian record in women's 400m freestyle in her Olympic debut, the 19-year-old Li Bingjie described her Olympic journey as "quite satisfying".

Competing in four individual events and one relay, Li had a strong showing in her Tokyo Games. "My first Olympic Games was quite satisfying. My goal was to get on the podium in the 400m and the 4x200m relay, but I didn't expect to win gold. The relay was a surprise," she said.

Li admitted that the Olympic schedule was "very intensive," but with preparation in advance and practice in accordance with the Games' day pace, she said "I felt less nervous and that I had things under control".

"The relay was really unforgettable," Li said of the team's victory over the United States in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay. "When we started to check in, we saw on TV that Zhang Yufei dominated the 200m butterfly."

"It really motivated us," Li added.

Only one hour later, Li and her fellow countrywomen Zhang Yufei, Yang Junxuan, and Tang Muhan smashed the previous world record by 1.17 seconds to beat favorites Australia and the United States in one of the best races of the Games.

"I watched her [Katie Ledecky of the United States] in the last few dozen meters," Li recalled. "I normally surface for air on the left. But to get a better look at her, I switched to my right. I just told myself to hang on. I got this!"

After winning the Olympic gold medal, Li sent messages to her parents and coaches to appreciate their help. "I want to thank everyone, especially my mom and dad for encouraging me when I was going through a bad time. I wouldn't have made it without them," she said.

Currently in quarantine in Tianjin, Li will soon start training again for the upcoming National Games to be held in Xian, Shaanxi Province. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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