Ye Shiwen: Too fast for her own good?

The story people at the Aquatic Centre are talking about


In an Olympic swim meet that has so far been most notable for who hasn’t been topping the podium—perennial champions like Michael Phelps of the U.S., Australia’s Stephanie Rice, and Kotsuke Kitajima of Japan, who all suddenly look old and slow—there is only one story people are talking about. Sixteen-year-old Ye Shiwen of China, who has not only emerged as the fastest woman, but is piling up times that put most of the men to shame.

In the 400m individual medley finals on Saturday night, Ye powered to gold in 4:28.43, shaving more than a second off the previous world record, and shattering her own personal best by a full five seconds. More astounding still, sitting second to American Elizabeth Beisel as the race entered its final 100 metres, Ye turned on the jets and left the reigning world champion flailing for the silver. The 16-year-old’s splits for the freestyle leg—29.25 for the first 50m, then 28.93 for the last length of the pool—were not only way faster than any of her competitors, they were faster than anyone in the men’s 400m IM. Ryan Lochte of the U.S., considered the best all-around swimmer on the planet at the moment, swam his last leg 0.17 seconds slower on the way to a gold.

Yet Ye didn’t seem that excited by her crushing victory. “There is much room for improvement,” she told reporters. “It’s true for breaststroke I am lagging behind, but I think my freestyle result is also not that good. Usually I’m very bad at turning. This is one of my worst basic skills, but turning is a very important skill, therefore I was practicing my turns before the competition.”

In the heats for the 200m IM this morning—an event she won at the world championships in Shanghai last year—Ye looked awfully impressive, qualifying first for the semis with a time of 2:08.90. Ahead by almost a full body length during the breaststroke, she again pulled away over the final freestyle leg to best Kristy Coventry of Zimbabwe, who won a silver in Beijing, by more than 1.5 seconds. It’s almost like Ye has a propeller.

This dominance is of course raising questions. After all, the Chinese swim program has a long history of doping, with 40 positive tests during the 1990s alone, and another 16-year-old, Li Zhesi, being caught for the blood-booster EPO this past spring. Ye has never failed a test, and Chinese officials have expressed annoyance that the issue is even being raised. She is, they say, a product of a program that now identifies talent at an extremely young age and nutures it along. In Ye’s case, it was her kindergarten teacher who guided her toward the pool after noticing she had extremely large hands for a five-year-old.

The rising Chinese power in the pool will be an issue for Canada as the swim meet continues this week. Ryan Cochrane’s toughest competition in the 1500m Freestyle is Sun Yang, the 20-year-old who beat him out for gold at the world championships in Shanghai. There, Sun shaved 0.42 off a world record that had stood since 2001, and no one even came close to touching in Beijing when swimmers were still allowed to wear those full-body shark suits.

Whatever the Chinese are doing, it’s working.



Ye Shiwen: Too fast for her own good?

  1. “Whatever the Chinese are doing, it’s working.” Good word for losers LOL

  2. Does anyone really believe China isn’t doping? Come on.

    • there’s nothing wrong losing to a female Chinese swimmer, it’s being sour grapes about it and making unfounded accusation that makes you a loser

    • where is your evidence? Come on.

    • Smith is a famous doping name, including in the swimming world.

      • Smith ? The Irish Swimmer Was Never found Guilty for Doping but yet she beat ever single Top American Female Swimmer and the Americans couldn’t take it she was the Most Drug Tested Swimmer in the 94 Games. −

        • No her samples showed she took performance enhancers more than once in races where she medalled and she was caught trying to cover up her urine sample.

        • Smith was indeed caught out, and was banned for 4 years for tampering with a urine sample when officials showed up by surprise at her front door, after she had been dodging them for months. Her cheating cost Canadian swimmers a few medals in Atlanta.

  3. Sadly, its hard not to suspect every athlete that stands out any time. Most probably are cheaters who are thus far beating the system and we’re left no longer able to unreservedly and unsuspiciously admire a real incredibly outstanding athlete if they come along.

  4. yeah.. its American win in swimming, its all clean and good… but when its a Chinese she must be doping. not surprising.. another racist maclean’s article.

    • faster than Lochte and you think she’s not doping? get a grip

      • She was not faster than Lochte. His time of 4:05 against her 4:28 was 23 seconds faster.

      • Have you noticed Lochte just got blown out in the men free? Here’s a thought to get through your head: Lochte simply isn’t that prepared.

      • Lochte couldn’t barely keep up with the previous women’s WR in that race being compared, which was still very close to Ye’s time. Lochte is not even gold standard.
        The fastest men swimmers revealed today are French, Chinese and Korean.

    • Should I mention that 40 Chinese swimmers tested positive in the ’90s, and were caught smuggling steroids through airports and into hotels? Not the case with American swimmers, plus the fact that they don’t test positive. American track athletes have, but not swimmers.

      • So we should say any American that breaks a world record in track (not to mention other professional sports) are doped. Are you sure Phelps has not smoked a joint and tried to cover it up?

        • I don`t have any opinion on doping, other than there`s a lot of it going on in a lot of countries.

          However, I did live in China for a couple of years in the late 90`s, and I can confirm that China has possibly the world`s best scouting program & elite development programs. Every schoolteacher has a list of physical characteristics to watch for in their kids, & just about every kid who shows unusual promise in a sport gets a scholarship to an elite trainiing academy.

          Life in these schools can probably be a little harsh & undemanding, but most of the kids who attend come from poor farming backgrounds, and even if they don`t go on to compete internationally, they still tend to have better job prospects after graduating than if they went to school in their hometowns.

          Anyway, per capita, we`re still ahead of them, and there`s more to life than Olympic medals.

  5. Canadians must be taking performance reducing drugs cuz they seem to come last in everything lol

  6. But, China is the sort of country that can take young children that have potential and send them off to a training facility. I would expect this sort sports of dominance from a country with professional child athletes. Their government thinks it is important as a propaganda tool. I guess we would just call it child abuse.

    • actually, US is doing the same on selected sports in recent years, too. You just don’t hear people talk about it the same way they talk about China. Media is powerful, yes they are.

    • If you call it child abuse, then they were abused not by the government but their own parents. It was the Chinese tiger moms (and dads) who send their young ones to the sports schools wishing for an early start in sports career. Pretty sure Michael Phelps’s mom “abused” her boy too.

  7. The main problem here is she’s 16, beat her own personal best by 5 seconds, on the last length beat the fastest swimmer in the world at the moment and with the mass amount of doping which has been proven positive in China you can’t really blame people for thinking something is suspicious here. I hope she hasn’t though and won this properly, but for some reason I can’t see it…

  8. For a little perspective…

    Previous WR holder Stephanie Rice swam a personal best of 4:40:79 in June 2007. Less than 6 months later she “smashed” her personal best by 3.61 second by swimming 4:37:18. 6 months after that she again “smashed” her personal best by 6:06 seconds and set a new WR of 4:31:12 at the Australian Olympic Trials.

    With a little rough math… she improved by more than 9 seconds to WR setting time in 12 months. 9 sec/yr.

    Shiwen’s previous personal best was set when she was 14, 2 years prior. To increase by 5 seconds in 2 years is nothing in comparison… just 2.5 sec/yr.

    People (Americans) accusing her of cheating simply because she kicked an American’s a$$ after she has passed all of her drug tests should be the new definition of ‘poor sportsmanship’.

    That this is getting so much press is just pathetic.

    • Here’s a little perspective dumbass.

      1. Sudden and massive increase in performance.

      2. Shattering previous best by a massive 5 seconds in a sport where previous bests are beaten in tenths of a second.

      3. Faster than one of the top male swimmers in the world in the last 50m.

      4. Beating a world record by 1 second when she never came close before.

      5. She was a complete nobody before the Olympics and never won shit.

      6. Chinese swimmers are notorious cheaters. 40 Chinese swimmers tested positive in the ’90s, and some were caught smuggling steroirds.

      I’d say that deserves suspicions.

      • 1) she only broke her own PB in the finals by 2 seconds … not 5 unless you forget her semi , but this is something thorpe had achieved as a 16 year old,and many others at that age will. why was this not questioned when he did it?
        2) adlington performed the same feat of beating her male equivelent over the last split when winning one of her golds in beijing , why was this not questioned?
        3) she was already a world champion in a shorter distance race and not exactly coming out from nowwhere , why are current world champions not being questioned when winning other medals/distances?

  9. This is pure racism at its worst. Anti-sinicism is the worst of the worst racism – worse than anti-semitism. I don’t know why some people have so much hatred towards the Chinese.

    Let’s look at the fact.

    Ye’s time is nowhere near the WOMEN’s 50 meter record.

    Ryan Lochte mismanaged his split. He spent too much energy on the prior lap and also he did not need the speed for the last lap. He is capable of a much much faster split.

    • Why is everything racist when there is contraversy with every other race than white?

  10. Our ol’ neanderthal neighbors to the north sound very jealous on these boards. ;) There is no way possible that she could beat Lochte in the last 50. Chinese have a history and a very real motivation.

  11. Dont be fools. The chinese are communist, these people don’t live like us. If our kindergarten teachers identify that one of us has a nice big stride nobody pays our way or basically grooms us to become a super athlete. This child just set a record that probably wont be broken for another ten years and she reacts with discipline. “it wasn’t good enough.” That’s crazy. It’s not cheating. Its just a fanatical approach to sports and competition. Of course Americans think she’s cheating, they are akericans half of them think chinese people still live in the stone ages like mulan. But don’t be confused, this is militarily disciplined athletes. Like the russians during the coldwar. they used to keep their hockey players locked up when they went abroad to play international tournaments. We basically had to play back yard shinny to beat them. So how will we react to the chinese dominance? Abduct children and force them into athletic competion? That’s what it might take.

  12. The Chinese government is pleased to announce that due to our incredible State sponsored atheltic program Ye Shiwen has been dominating her particular swimming events at the 2012 Olympics in London. Although we do take some Chinese children away from their parents at the age of between four to six years old to enroll them in special training camps, we have always been naturally gifted with many athletic attributes. Plus, due to the remarkable ability of our chemists, we have developed some incredible performance enhancing drugs that cannot be detected with regular IOC testing facilities. Long live the Glorious People’s Republic of China.

  13. so, when a 17 year old US swimmer won, the world applause; and when a 16 year old Chinese swimmer won, it must be done through cheating. Are we still at the Cold War or what? This is racism to the extreme.

    By the way, the way Canada tried so hard to stretch the Canadian angle is disgusting. Did you see how embarrassed Ms. Franklin look when the journalist said Canada is cheering for you?

  14. I honestly think that she’s clean, but the Chinese “outrage” that is on display over the fact that anyone might dare suspect she’s not, is somewhat disingenuous. Especially given their nation’s history in the sport. After the East Germans of the 70s and 80s, the Chinese were the biggest drug cheats in the sport for a very long time. It’s not racist for people to question the accomplishments of an athlete who is the product of a system with such a deplorable history of cheating. It has very little to do with Ye Shiwen, but everything to do with the disgraceful manner in which Chinese swimmers, with official backing, have cheated in the past. So far, I haven’t heard a single Chinese person or official acknowledge that fact.

    If in the 100m track and field final, a lesser known runner beats Usain Bolt and the other big names by shaving a second off of their personal best, I’m going to be suspicious. The next time someone hits 70 home runs in Major League Baseball, I’m going to be suspicious. That doesn’t make me “racist” or anything else for that matter. All it means is that I have been watching sports long enough to have been lied to before. I really do feel bad for Ye Shiwen, but I wish that China would stop acting as though the suggestion is so incredibly outside the realm of reason. This is the world that we live in now, and they should accept some of the blame for having created it. Just like the track athletes from pretty much every country (including Canada and the US), and the baseball drug cheats. When Jose Bautista came out of nowhere and started hitting home runs at an incredible pace, the suspicion he faced had nothing to do with him personally. It was the result of fans having had their faith betrayed by the likes of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds.

  15. When Phelps won all those gold medals in Beijing, not once was his ability questioned by the media. He was just a great swimmer, end of story. However, when another swimmer from a country outside of the US breaks a record, it’s “disturbing” and therefore they must be cheating. Am I missing something? Fine, China may have been guilty of doping in the past, but isn’t it also possible that this girl is “just that good”? Besides, the US and other countries have been guilty of doping in the past too, why is this not brought up whenever one of their athletes have an astonishing performance?

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