China’s top swimmers, including double world champion Sun Yang, have been finalising their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games at the University of Bath.
The group of 24 Chinese swimmers have been training at the University’s Sports Training Village for just over two weeks and transfer to Olympic Village on Monday (23 July).
They include the four swimmers who won all five of China’s gold medals at last year’s World Championships in Shanghai.
Lu Yifan, Chief Technical Researcher of the Chinese National Swimming Team, said: “Training at the University of Bath was the best choice for us. The campus is very good, it has a good facilities and a good swimming pool.
“It’s not just the sports facilities, we have also stayed in accommodation and used the restaurants on campus, and it’s not far from London. It’s difficult to find all of the things we need on one site at a university campus or in a city. It’s been very good for the swimmers to prepare for the London Olympics here.
“Things are looking quite promising for the team this year. Our aim is to get better and better, and we are improving year by year,” he added.
The hottest prospect in the team is 20-year-old Sun Yang (pictured), who won gold in the 800m and 1500m freestyle at last year’s World Championships and is world number one in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle.
Lu Yifan said: “He is still very young and it takes time to grow up, but he we have seen how he is developing himself and has a lot of potential.”
Lu Yifan also said China is hoping to forge a longer term relationship with the University, with junior swimmers attending future training camps on campus.
Jiao Liuyang, 200m butterfly gold medallist at last year’s World Championships and silver medallist at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, is also among the Chinese swimmers training in Bath. She said she is concentrating on her own performances ahead of London 2012 rather than focussing on the opposition.
“I feel quite good now and I will do my best at the Olympics,” she said. “I’ve been working with my coach to overcome my shortcomings. I know all the finalists in London will be good, but I will be competing with myself.
“I will try my best not to let the people in China down,” she added.
Ye Shiwen (pictured left), who won 200m individual medley gold at last year’s World Championships, said preparations for London 2012 have been going well.
“I’m just carrying on training the way I have before,” she said. “I really like the facilities here, but not the rainy days!”
The group training in Bath also includes Zhao Jing, who took 100m backstroke gold at last year’s World Championships and was a member of China’s bronze medal winning 4x100m medley relay team at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, and Pang Jiaying, who also a member of the medley relay team and took bronze in the 200m freestyle and silver in the 4x200m freestyle in Beijing.
Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport at the University of Bath, said: “We’ve been delighted to host the Chinese swimming team at the University of Bath for their final preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“We’ve worked closely with the team to ensure their experience in Bath is right for them and we hope they have enjoyed their stay.”
The University of Bath is the training base for a many teams and athletes in the lead-up to 2012, including the Russian athletics team and Malaysian badminton team.
Athletes from Barbados, Denmark, Ghana, Iceland, Libya, Nauru and St Vincent & the Grenadines and the UAE have also trained at the University ahead of London 2012.
The University will also host the main preparation camp for the ParalympicsGB team in the lead-up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Some 25 athletes who train full time at the University of Bath are competing at the Olympic Games – 23 will be representing Team GB and one each will compete for Egypt and Ghana. Six Bath-based athletes will represent ParalympicsGB at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
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The University of Bath is The Sunday Times University of the Year 2011/12.