Sun Yang

China swim star Sun Yang rips Japan anthem at Asian Games

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Swimming’s 4x100m freestyle relay is no stranger to bulletin-board comments. China’s Sun Yang may have added to that history at the Asian Games.

“The Chinese let their anger out tonight,” he said after helping China win the 4x100m free relay over Japan in Incheon, South Korea, on Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse. “Honestly speaking, the Japanese national anthem sounds ugly.”

Sun and Japan’s Kosuke Hagino co-starred in the swimming competition in Incheon, even if the facility was named after current South Korean headliner Park Tae-hwan.

Hagino defeated Sun in the 200m, but Sun later won the 400m. Hagino, 20, finished the event with six individual medals. That’s more than Michael Phelps won in any of his Olympics. Hagino has said he wants to become like Phelps. He ought to hit his peak either at the Rio Olympics in 2016, or perhaps the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

To Hagino’s credit, he did not respond to Sun’s comment in similar fashion.

“I didn’t hear what he said so it’s hard to comment,” he said, according to AFP. “But first and foremost we’re all athletes and we have to respect each other. We also have to show human values so hopefully we can continue to compete in that atmosphere.”

Back to Sun. The Olympic 400m and 1500m free champion and reigning Swimming World Swimmer of the Year is known for rocking the boat. Most notoriously, he was briefly detained after getting into a car accident without a license last year and suspended from his college swim team.

Sun’s reported comments followed quotes that pumped up U.S.-Australia and U.S.-France rivalries in the 4x100m free relay at the 2000 and 2008 Olympics.

In 2000, American Gary Hall Jr. said, “My biased opinion says that we will smash them like guitars,” in reference to Australia. (What wasn’t re-reported nearly as much from the article was Hall calling Australia “beautiful” with “admirable” people who had “good humor” and “genuine kindness.”)

Australian Ian Thorpe fell behind and then passed Hall on the final leg of the 2000 Olympic relay, igniting a raucous celebration at the Sydney Aquatic Centre. Memorably, another Australian, Michael Klim led a group strumming air guitars on the deck after Thorpe touched.

In 2008, the U.S. men got word before the relay that France’s Alain Bernard said his team would smash the Americans. Of course, Bernard was run down by Jason Lezak on anchor, the fastest relay split of all time.

Neither China nor Australia should figure into the gold-medal race in the 4x100m free in Rio 2016, but Sun and Hagino appear headed for many more battles in their careers. They will surely share more podiums, and if the Asian Games was any indication, Sun will have to listen to the Japanese anthem in some of those instances.

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J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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