15:55 31 July 2012
A well-known US swimming coach raised some questions about the performance of Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, who broke a world record by a mere second and also surpassed her own personal record by five seconds in a 400m individual medley during the Olympics.
John Leonard, the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, had only one word for the 16-year-old swimmer’s performance: ‘unbelievable’.
Miss Ye’s gold-winning performance won the admiration of audiences as she swam the final 50m freestyle of the 400m medley in just 28.93 seconds. According to Leonard, “No coach that I spoke to yesterday could ever recall seeing anything remotely like that in a world level competition.”
Not only was she faster than Ryan Lochte, who won the gold in the men’s version of the event, but the swimmer was also five full seconds faster than she used to be. Leonard brought these to light and said, “All those things, I think, legitimately call that swim into question.”
He also added that Miss Ye ‘looks like superwoman’ although he stopped short of making any suggestions about doping. However, some think his comments have an underlying meaning as he added that ‘any time someone has looked like superwoman’ in the history of swimming, they are later ‘found guilty of doping.’
Leonard, however, was not the first to comment on the stunning performance of the young swimmer. The first was Clare Balding, a TV presenter at the BBC, who asked former British Olympian Mark Foster right after Miss Ye’s win: “How many questions will there be, Mark, about somebody who can suddenly swim so much faster than she has ever swum before?”
Mark Foster was quick to dismiss the idea of doping and said that Miss Ye’s young age may be a contributing factor.
Despite calls for Balding’s sacking, the BBC defended the presenter saying: “The Chinese swimmer had just knocked five seconds off her personal best to break a world record; in her role as a presenter, it is Clare’s job to ask the experts how she managed to do it. There was absolutely no implication of doping.”
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