Swimming: Sun looks to shine but clouds still hang over Phelps
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Saturday 16 July 2011
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.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea injury news: Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic could join Diego Costa on the sidelines for crucial Manchester City clash
Australian Open 2015: Thanks to Amelie Mauresmo, it's no longer Andy Murray against the world
Fantasy Premier League: Invest in Arsenal to climb the ranks in Gameweek 23
Manchester United sign former Manchester City prospect Sadiq El Fitouri on advice from Phil Neville and Paul Scholes
Chelsea vs Manchester City: Manuel Pellegrini pours scorn on anti-Chelsea 'campaign' but refuses to discuss Jose Mourinho's 'Pellegrino' slight
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...