BEIJING: Chinese Web users cheered on their Olympic swimming champion Ye Shiwen on Wednesday and blasted Western media for raising suspicions about doping after her record-smashing 400m individual medley win.
The 16-year-old athlete rebuffed accusations raised after she shaved five seconds off her personal best while winning gold in the Saturday race. She collected another gold in the 200m medley on Tuesday.
“Why can’t Chinese swimming show talent???? Ye Shiwen is the pride of China!!! She’s clean!!!” wrote one user identified as Wu Yue on the popular Chinese Twitter-like website Weibo.
“Well done, Ye Shiwen,” posted another called Lookingatearthfromafar, “the West’s suspicion is inevitable. I agree Westerners are always arrogant.”
Ye’s exploits topped a list of hottest subjects on Weibo Wednesday with 2.6 million posts, most of which appeared within the last 24 hours.
Ordinary Chinese defended the swimming sensation as well.
“I think she relied on her own hard work,” Zhang Chunju said in Beijing on Wednesday. “As soon as China wins a gold medal, foreigners question whether it was because of banned drugs. This isn’t reasonable.”
Sceptical Western coaches and media called Ye’s results unbelievable: a 400m record of 4min 28.43sec, one second off the previous low. Her final leg was faster than the final leg swum by US Olympic champion Ryan Lochte in the men’s 400m medley also on Saturday.
Ye broke another Olympic record on Tuesday with a 2min 0.757sec finish in the 200m medley, again bursting ahead in the final stretch of the race.
Critics also pointed to a series of doping scandals that embroiled Chinese swimmers in the 1990s.
Some swimming experts defended Ye, however, arguing that she had never failed a drug test and could simply be a phenomenal athlete.
Chinese anti-doping chief Jiang Zhixue said in London on Monday that Chinese swimmers have undergone nearly 100 drug tests since arriving in Britain for the Olympics, and should not be singled out for suspicion.
An editorial in the state-run Global Times on Wednesday accused the West of “being petty” about Ye’s success.
“Negative comments about her and Chinese athletes come from deep bias and reluctance from the Western press to see Chinese people making breakthroughs,” it said. “If Ye were an American, the tone would be different.”
However, most of the Chinese media coverage has been positive, with the majority of newspapers Wednesday expressing their support for the swimmer rather than anger at the suspicions levelled at her.
Ye said she had shrugged off what she considered unfair criticism.
“I think in other countries people have won multiple medals and no one says anything about them, so why should they say these things about me?” she said on Tuesday.
“It just encouraged me to prove myself.”
Channel News Asia