Sun Yang puts distractions aside to win 400m freestyle

BARCELONA - Olympic champion Sun Yang claimed the men's 400m freestyle gold at the swimming world championships on Sunday.

Just as he did in the Olympics final last year, the 21-year-old Chinese dominated early in Barcelona, adding the 400m world title to the 800m and 1500m freestyle gold medals he won two years ago in Shanghai.

Sun clocked 3min 41.59sec, finishing more than three seconds ahead of Japan's Kosuke Hagino, who swam 3:44.82, while Connor Jaeger of the United States finished in 3:44.85 to claim third.

"I give thanks to my coach and my parents," said an emotional Sun, who has moved his training base to Hong Kong in the last year.

"I have been training for this for the past 10 years and it has paid off."

He has had a turbulent 12 months since his London triumph, getting into a row with his coach over his love affair with an air stewardess.

Sun, the tall distance specialist from Zhejiang, rejected coach Zhu Zhigen's demand that he stop seeing his new girlfriend and concentrate on his swimming instead.

Despite a public show of reconciliation with Zhu, Sun has been training in Hong Kong under former Chinese head coach Zhang Yadong.

"Over the last year, I have experienced a lot of new things, and I still managed to win the gold medal," said Sun. "I have overcome many problems and proved myself tonight."