16-year-old Wang Jianjiehe becomes new hope of Chinese swimming

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-15 12:23:30|Editor: Liu
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By sportswriter Li Jia

HANGZHOU, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- A new swimming star is rising from the short course world championships here to light up China's hope in the pool from 16-year-old Wang Jianjiahe.

Wang, who has claimed a gold and a silver at the FINA Swimming World Championships (25m) so far, has been expected as a medal hope for China at the 2020 Olympic Games. Her height, 183cm, was also considered as an advantage in the pool.

The Liaoning native proved herself as one of the best freestyle swimmers in short course by winning the 800m free gold and 400m free silver in Hangzhou. She also took part in the 200m and made a fifth finish.

Wang was also competitive in the 50m pool, as she won 400m, 800m, 1500m freestyle and 4X200m freestyle relay gold medals at the Asian Games this year.

She has been compared with American swimming star Katie Ledecky, who won 200m, 400m, 800m free titles and 4X200m freestyle relay gold at 2016 Rio Games.

"Ledecky is my idol," said Wang. "I hope I can compete with her one day. I have not had chance to meet her."

Wang surprised the world when she broke the 400m free world record in Budapest short-course World Cup last month, but her world record was renewed by Australian Ariarne Titmus in 3:53.92 on Friday, while Wang trailed her in 3:54.56. Her teammate Li Bingjie came third in 3:57.99.

"I'll give myself a score eight out of 10. I am not satisfied with the result. I wanted to get my personal best," said Wang, who won the 800m free gold on Thursday.

Except for the good results, there was another thing which made people remember the girl. Wang swam an extra 50m in the 800m heat without realizing she had finished the required distance on Wednesday. Italian swimmer Simona Quadarella who followed Wang in the heat also swam an extra 50m.

"I did one more lap (50 meters) on Wednesday's heat because I thought the bell should ring at the turn of the last 100m, but in fact it should ring at the last lap. I was confused at that moment. I only realized that when I was at the turn of 825m and I thought I'd better finish the extra lap. It was a lesson for me," said Wang.

The funny story drew a lot of comments on the internet. Chinese netizens joked "Swim 800m, you will get 50m for free," and foreign media tagged her "lovely girl".

Wang started swimming when she was five. She said she was fat at that time and her parents wanted her to lose some weight.

She entered the national team at 14 and started to show her talent in 2017 by winning 400m and 800m free at Short-course World Cup Doha last October and set a new world junior record in the 400m. She almost replicated the performance one month later as she won 400m and 800m gold in short-course World Cup Beijing and renewed the world junior record in 400m again.

After the good results at the Asian Games, Wang seemed unbeatable in the country as she won gold in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events at National Swimming Championships in October.

Though the results have been good so far, but it seems not the height of the 16-year-old girl.

"I'll work hard [to break the world record]. There are many great swimmers in the 400m freestyle, so I need to improve still."