Sun Yang of China shows his medal during the awarding ceremony of men's 200m freestyle swimming final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 2016. Sun Yang won the gold medal with 1 minute 44.65 seconds.（Xinhua/Fei Maohua）
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) --- China's Sun Yang delivered a stunning riposte to his critics on Monday by winning the men's 200m freestyle gold medal at the Rio Olympics.
The 24-year-old has been at the center of a media storm in recent days, having been labelled a "drug cheat" by his Australian rival Mack Horton.
The Chinese swimming team responded by demanding an apology for Horton's "malicious personal attack" on the country's swimmers.
Sun, who won gold in the 400m freestyle and 1500m freestyle at the London 2012 Olympics, served a three-month ban in 2014 after testing positive to a banned substance. He said he unwittingly took the drug as part of treatment for a chronic heart problem.
If Horton's comments were not enough to worry about, Sun was also facing questions about his form. He was beaten by Horton in Saturday's 400m freestyle final, a race the Chinese swimmer was widely expected to win.
But any doubts about whether Sun could still be a dominant force in the pool were erased in emphatic fashion at Rio's Olympic Aquatics Centre on Monday.
Sun secured the Olympic 200m freestyle title by finishing the final in 1 minute 44.65 seconds, 0.55sec ahead of South Africa's Chad le Clos with the USA's Conor Dwyer 0.58sec further back.
Sun, who won silver in the same event at the London 2012 Games, could not hide his delight after the race, raising his arms in triumph in the pool. Afterwards he tossed his cap into the crowd, which gave him loud and sustained applause.
It was a sincere and justified reaction from a man who has endured a tumultuous week.
And we have not see the last of him in Rio. Sun will be the favorite to defend his 1500m Olympic crown on Saturday. Swimming fans can expect more brilliance and raw emotion from the Chinese star, who showed on Monday that he has the temperament of a true champion.