As the London 2012 Olympics press ahead, China is showing that its success in Beijing four years ago was no flash in the pan; but such was the magnificence of one performance that there are those who are wondering if it was too good to be true.
16 year-old Ye Shiwen came from nowhere to smash the world record in the women’s 400m medley en route to gold.
"I dreamed of winning the gold medal, but I never ever expected to break a world record. I'm overwhelmed," said Ye. "It is a big evening for Chinese swimming."Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
It was an amazing time, and in the last 50 metres of her race, she was faster than Ryan Lochte who won the men’s gold at the same event.
"Yeah, we were talking about that at dinner last night," Lochte said. "It is pretty impressive. She's fast. If she was there with me, she might have beat me.”
Inevitably, Ye’s swim was so fast that roundabout questions are being asked
American coach Gregg Troy said: "You know what we're getting at. It's difficult to say anything, but it is something we've never seen."
Swimming writer John Lohn admitted that while China has a record of doping, that was in the past.
He criticized the doubters.
“What a bloody shame,” he wrote. “For some of the sport's avid followers, it was enough to sit back and appreciate what will go down as one of the finest performances in the pool in years.”
Lohn noted that while China has a record of doping, that was a different time. "Its track record opens itself up — to a degree — to a level of doubt…. Still, the accusations fired at Ye are out of line in this age of drug testing. … Instead of dirtying her achievement with unfounded claims and doubts, it would be wiser to appreciate a performance which was legendary."
In the men's swimming, there was more Chinese delight as Sun Yang beat his South Korean nemesis, Park Tae-hwan. Park took gold in the 400m freestyle in Beijing but ‘Marine Boy’ had to settle for silver this time round as he simply could not shake off Sun, who took the lead on the final turn and stayed there.
"The feeling is very nice, it's beautiful," said an emotional Sun. "It's a big dream come true for me."
"Because it's the Olympic Games, I felt a little bit nervous at the start, and then at the end, I felt that I could get a medal."
It all made fans at home forget the first round exit of Li Na from the first round of the women’s tennis competition.
They’ll be talking about Ye and Sun’s performance for years to come.