China's Yang makes history on artistic swimming's world stage

(Xinhua) 10:10, February 08, 2024

DOHA, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- In an Aspire Dome filled with anticipation at Doha, Yang Shuncheng awaited the final scores from the judges while seated on a couch. The young swimmer's face betrayed a hint of nervousness amid the tension.

As the top qualifier, Yang took to the pool as the final performer in the solo free event at the World Aquatics Championships on Wednesday night. Italy's Giorgio Minisini, who had completed his performance earlier, scored 210.1355 points, adding pressure on Yang's shoulders.

Ultimately, the Chinese secured 176.3647 points, putting him in fourth place and seeing him agonizingly miss the chance to stand on the podium.

However, the 16-year-old has already made history for China. Yang clinched the men's solo technical event on Monday, marking China's first participation and victory in the event at the World Aquatics Championships.

"I am very satisfied with winning, and I never thought I would stand on the highest podium," Yang reflected.

Hailing from Hubei Province in central China, Yang was recruited into the local swimming team at seven. It was during his training that his coach noticed his potential and introduced him to artistic swimming.

"At the time, I found this sport quite novel and enjoyable," he recounted.

For Yang, practicing the event meant overcoming various challenges, including misconceptions. Many would comment, "Isn't it too feminine for boys?"

"And at the beginning, flexibility training was the most painful. I had to do basic exercises like splits every day," Yang recalled.

Yang's rapid progress saw him compete in numerous national youth competitions, earning a string of honors.

Yang was selected for China's artistic swimming team training camp in January last year. He trained diligently in the national team, aiming to seize every opportunity.

Yang has increasingly attracted attention after clinching gold in both the men's solo technical and men's solo free events at the 2023 Artistic Swimming World Cup in Egypt.

With an increasing number of male athletes making their mark in Doha, the men's solo and mixed events have garnered significant attention at this year's World Aquatics Championships.

As the first male artistic swimming champion at the World Championships, Bill May of the United States remarked, "Competing in the Olympics was once thought to be an impossible dream for men, but now it proves that we should all dare to dream."

"Winning at the World Championships is a belief in myself," Yang expressed. "Of course, I hope to have the opportunity to participate in the Olympics, and I will train hard and do my best."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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