Swimming: Sun looks to shine but clouds still hang over Phelps

They may be competing in Shanghai – beneath the striking arches of the Oriental Sports Center on the banks of the Huangpu River – but thoughts will be firmly focused on London.

A year out from the Olympics, the world's best, from the mighty Michael Phelps to Sun Yang, the sport's new sensation, will be using the World Championships to assess their readiness for 2012 – and keep a wary eye on their likeliest challengers.

"It is a good chance to get the swimmers ready [for London]," said Yao Zhengjie, the China coach, of the meeting that opens today. Phelps, the undoubted king of the pool in Beijing, has endured the worst spell of his career – he has been beaten three times in the 200m butterfly, an event he had not lost in for nine years – and will be closely watched to see if he is mortal after all. But it is Yang, the 6ft 5in teenager, who will be centre of attention, and not just because he is the poster boy for home hopes – which are high as China are a rising force in the sport.

At last year's Asian Games, the 19-year-old finished less than a second short of breaking the oldest record in the sport, Grant Hackett's 2001 mark in the 1500m. The great Australian dominated distance swimming but Yang appears to have the potential to extend his influence beyond that. He has recorded the fastest times in the world this year at 200m, 400m and 1500m. At the Chinese nationals this year, he destroyed the field in the 200m, a powerful kick conjuring a shattering turn of speed. He remains a work in progress – his turns can be ragged – but his contest with South Korea's Park Tae-hwan, the Beijing gold medallist, in the 400m, will be instructive of how good he can be.

Phelps won five golds in the last World Championships in Rome in 2009, to follow his eight in Beijing, and admits he lost his edge afterwards and there were times that he had to be dragged "kicking and screaming" to training. He also suffered a 400m individual medley defeat this year, but now claims to have rediscovered his desire. "I feel a lot better," said the 26-year-old. "It's like the old feeling I used to get leading up to meets."

Britain's first interest comes with Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield in the 10m synchronised diving tomorrow. Daley is also defending the 10m platform title he won two years ago.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee