03 August 2023 | in Summer FISU World University Games
Zhang Yufei (China) in the women’s 50m butterfly
Chinese superstar Zhang Yufei stole the show on the second day of swimming at the Chengdu FISU World University Games.
The two-time Olympic champion from Tokyo 2020 claimed gold in the women’s 50m butterfly and the mixed 4×100 medley relay, both in FISU record time.
She also posted the fourth-fastest time in the semifinals of the 100 freestyle. The final is set for Thursday.
Simone Stefani (Italy) in the middle lane shown and Michele Lamberti (Italy) in the bottom lane in the men’s 100m backstroke final“For me, it’s all about not overthinking,” said Zhang, who set a world record in the 200 fly in Tokyo. “If you’re thinking ahead to the third race when you’re still competing in the first, then it’s easy to feel burdened and not perform as well.”
Liu Yaxin, in the women’s 200 backstroke, and Qin Haiyang, in the men’s 100 breaststroke, also prevailed for the host nation on Wednesday, upping China’s number of medals after two days of pool action to five, all of them gold.
China’s dominant performance in swimming so far in Chengdu has left most countries in its wake, but two are giving the hosts a run for its money: Italy and Poland.
Italy has the most medals, with eight (2-3-3), while Poland’s tally stands at four (1-3-0).
On Wednesday evening, Italian teammates Simone Stefani and Michele Lamberti finished 1-2 in the men’s 100 backstroke, with the latter recording a personal best.
Sprint specialist Lorenzo Gargani took silver in the 50 fly, while the Italian mixed relay claimed bronze.
“My personal best, I’m very happy with that,” said Lamberti. “There are many athletes that go for the gold, and being two Italians on the podium was special.”
For Poland, Jan Kalusowski (men’s 100 breaststroke) and the mixed relay captured silver, while Jakub Majerski (men’s 50 fly) earned him bronze.China’s mixed team 4x100m medley gold medallists – Wang Gukailai, Qin Haiyang, Li Bingjie and Zhang Yufei (L to R)
The night culminated with the exciting mixed medley relay.
Entering the final, the Chinese team was favored to win, but Poland and Italy tried their best to get in the way.
Stefani pulled ahead in the first 100m followed closely by his Polish and Chinese rivals. By the end of the second leg, China had closed the gap, and then it was once again Zhang’s time to shine.
She took the lead early in her swim and went on to provide anchor Bingjie Li with a 1.45-second cushion.