It's off! Sun Yang's shock exit from the 1500m means there will be no Sun-Mack rematch!
The two swimmers met in the 400m Freestyle final. Horton took the gold medal in the event, beating Sun Yang by 0.13 seconds. Horton gained notoriety for his blistering remarks aimed at Sun Yang when the bold Aussie claimed he had no “time or respect for drug cheats”. Horton was alluding to Yang’s 3 month suspension in 2014 for a positive drugs test.
Since Horton’s remarks, there has been a public outcry from China requesting Horton apologise for his derogatory statements. Australia’s Olympic chef de missions Kitty Chiller has come out and stated that there will be no apology made over Horton’s comments. Athletes such as Lily King, who has taken a similar hard-nosed stance against doping in Olympic events, have supported Horton.
As a culture, we Australians have a tendency to call a spade a spade. Horton’s comments have epitomized this approach that many of us share.
Having just returned from Hong Kong myself, it was surprising to see no admission of guilt from Sun Yang’s supporters. The Chinese are a culture built on pride and respect.
Unfortunately, Sun Yang hasn’t resembled these traits leading to the situation China and Australia find themselves in. The local media have seen this bout between the two as a flagrant international sign of disrespect.
The local Chinese community of Australia has been one of the most vocal groups condemning Horton’s comments. Sydney Today, a local Chinese media platform, has posted many articles and memes which emphasise the strong stance being taken by its readership. Article headlines such as ‘You stupid c***! Quickly apologise to Sun Yang” have been viewed 100,000 times. Channel 7 has enraged the minority further, by accidently posting the flag of Chile instead of China.
Excitement has steadily been brewing over the potential rematch of the two swimmers in the 1500m final. That is, the anticipation that both swimmers would make the final. The heats of the 1500m Freestyle were swam, and after murmurs coming out of China indicated Sun Yang had been hit with a common cold, his performance surely indicated as much. Sun Yang finished last in his heat and missed qualification into the final.
Knowing the Chinese, they will probably find a way to blame Horton for giving the cold to Sun Yang in an intentional act. Unfortunately the absence of Sun Yang in the 1500m final will mean the only storylines left to follow in the Olympic pool will be surrounding the success the American’s have been having.
Horton’s comments hold merit when considering why the Olympic Games themselves are held. The Games were created to foster peaceful yet competitive events, which tested nothing but an athlete’s ability. The idea that these games have been so heavily permeated by doping issues both past and present go directly against what the essence of the games represent.