Chinese girl's 'faster swim than Lochte' sparks controversy

┬áChina’s 16-year old Ye Shiwen won the gold medal in the 400m individual medley in a world record time at the London Olympics, but her record caused a storm, with various pundits from the sport pondering over how such a young teenage girl could swim faster than her male counterparts.

Shiwen, who wasn''t among the pre-race favourites, announced her arrival on swimming''s greatest stage with a world record in the arduous 400m individual medley event.

Ye Shiwen. Photo: AFP

Shiwen’s time of four minutes, 28.3 seconds beat the world record by more than a second and her previous best by five seconds. Her final length of 28.93 seconds even beat Ryan Lochte, who swam the last length in 29.1 seconds in his gold medal-winning race in the men''s 400 individual medley. Lochte’s overall time was four minutes 5.18 seconds.

Chinese swimming has formerly been stained by drug scandals, with another 16-year-old world champion being tested positive for doping last month, reports┬áTV presenter Clare Balding sparked controversy when she asked former Olympian Mark Foster, in the studio as a pundit: “How many questions will there be, Mark, about somebody who can suddenly swim so much faster than she has ever swum before?”

But, Foster downplayed any kind of possibility of foul play, and said such feats could be achieved.

“It was a five-second best time and it was the way she did it as well. Bearing in mind she is 16 years of age, and when you are young you do some big best times… it can be done,” Foster said.

Balding’s question attracted huge criticism on social networking site Twitter, with many branding her question as demeaning to the hard work done by the Chinese athletes.

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