Chinese women had a great morning in the pool, notching two silvers, a gold and a new world record. China only won two swimming medals in the 2004 Olympics.
Liu Zige (刘子歌) won gold and Jiao Liuyang won silver in the women’s 200 meters butterfly competition, in a rare 1-2 finish for Chinese swimmers. Liu swam a 2:04.18, a new world record, and Jiao a 2:04.72.
China went on to win silver in another women’s event, the 4 X 200 meters freestyle relay, with a time of 7:45.93. Gold went to Australia, and silver to the United States. Among the men, China’s Wu Peng failed to medal in the 200 meter butterfly final, coming in more than two seconds behind bronze medal winner Takeshi Matsuda of Japan.
It should come as no surprise that China is having breakthroughs in the pool at this Olympics. Swimming offers 84 medals, making it a good target for China’s effort to lead the gold and overall medal counts. The Chinese Swimming Association keeps its athletes out of most major international competition, so their best times were largely unknown before the games. Unfortunately, this leads to some suspicion in the swimming world as to whether the athletes are clean. China has had some history with doping scandals, with positive tests after the team stormed the 1994 FINA World Championships, and with backstroker Ouyang Kunpeng failing a drug test earlier this year.
In the other pool, Ying Tung Natatorium, China’s women’s water polo team pulled off a major upset, beating a strong Russian team, 13-11. China had given reigning world champions the United States a scare two days before, losing by only one point, 12-11.
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Image: Chinese Swimming Association