Mon, September 23, 2013

Olympic organizers defend Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency



LONDON - On one hand, she is just a kid, an obviously talented teenager thrust in the middle of one of the biggest storms at these Olympics.

On the other, the sensational form of Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen continues to be questioned as too good to be true and won’t go away. The 16-year-old set an Olympic record in winning her second gold medal of the Games, this time in the 200-metre individual medley.

“It’s OK, it didn’t affect me,” Ye said through a translator when asked about the negative media coverage that has dogged her since she swam away from the field in a world-record time at Saturday’s 400-metre IM win.

Ye was clocked in 2:07.57, but just as she did on Saturday she unleashed a bullet kick in the freestyle leg, the portion of her races that seems to be generating the most controversy.

The volume of the criticism directed toward Ye has gotten so loud that Games officials have felt compelled to defend her. Ye hasn’t had a positive test in her career.

“What you tend to forget is probably the 10 years of work that has already gone in to get to that point,” London organizing committee chair and former Olympian, Sebastien Coe, told ITV news. “You need to look back through her career. I think you’ve got to be very careful when you make judgments like that but, yes, it is an extraordinary breakthrough.”

The Chinese media chimed in also as state news agency Xinhua lashed out at their latest star athlete’s critics.

“I think it is not proper to single Chinese swimmers out once they produce good results,” Jiang Zhixue, who is said to be in charge of anti-doping for the state sports administration, told the agency. “Some (reports) are just biased.

“We never questioned Michael Phelps when he bagged eight gold medals in Beijing.”

Athletes have been deliberately measured in their comments about Ye, including Aussie Alicia Coutts, the silver medallist on Tuesday.

“I like to believe innocent until proven guilty,” Coutts said. “I think she is an amazing swimmer and it is amazing to be as close as I was.

“I know how hard I have worked to be here. If it wasn’t good enough to win a gold medal then I have 100% respect for whoever would go out there and beat me.”

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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