Glory for Cheong as Schooling misses out: Talking points and takeaways from the World Aquatics Championships
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Glory for Cheong as Schooling misses out: Talking points and takeaways from the World Aquatics Championships

THE 17th FINA World Aquatics Championships have drawn to a close in Budapest, with American Caeleb Dressel stealing the show.

The 20-year-old equalled Michael Phelps’ feat of seven gold medals at a single World Championships and became the first man to win three on one evening of competition.

SEE ALSO: Cheong hailed a national hero after winning Malaysia’s first world diving gold

But while Dressel and America dominated the meet, there were plenty of talking points featuring Asian swimmers and divers across the 17 days of competition in Hungary.

We look at some of those who made headlines.


Cheong Jun Hoong won Malaysia’s first World Aquatics Championships gold medal. Source: Reuters/David Balogh

Cheong Jun Hoong is Malaysia’s golden girl

Pandelela Rinong arrived in Budapest as the flag-bearer of Malaysian aquatics. The first female athlete from her country to win an Olympic medal, as well as the first in any sport other than badminton, she arrived as a two-time Olympic and three-time World Championships medallist.

She added a fourth World Championships medal when she and Cheong Jun Hoong claimed bronze in the 10m synchronised platform on day four of competition.

But Pandelela’s achievements were quickly overtaken by those of Cheong, who shocked the diving world by beating China’s Si Yajie and Ren Qian to win gold in the 10m platform.

It was Malaysia’s first ever gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships and further raised the profile of the sport ahead of next month’s Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Two Asian records (and a bronze medal) not enough for Joseph Schooling

The Singapore star went to Budapest eyeing gold medals in both the 50m and 100m butterfly, as well as a shot at Phelps’ 100m fly world record of 49.82 seconds.

He headed home having set two new Asian records in the 50m, and with a bronze medal in the 100m, but the meet fell well short of the 22-year-old’s expectations.

“I went into this meet having high expectations,” he said. “It’s definitely good to understand this position I’m in. Now I know how it feels and I don’t ever want feel it again.”

Schooling had to watch as his former Bolles School team-mate Dressel became the face of the Championships, and was nearly a whole second behind him in the 100m final. He ended up sharing bronze with Great Britain’s James Guy as their times could not be split.

“Every day in practice, I’ll definitely go in with a different mindset,” said Schooling, who will be back in the pool in Kuala Lumpur next month. “My whole approach to racing and training now is completely different. It’s more similar to before Rio, when I was chasing someone instead of being chased.”


China’s Yang Sun, pictured celebrating his victory in the 200m freestyle, took his overall tally of World Championships gold medals to nine. Source: Reuters/Michael Dalder

China cedes dominance of the World Championships to the US but Sun Yang is still a star

China slipped to second in the medal table, with 12 golds compared with the 21 accumulated by the US. In Kazan in 2015, China had won 15 gold medals to the 13 gained by American athletes.

China’s overall haul of 30 medals was also down from the 35 won in Kazan.

That said, Sun Yang’s star continued to shine. The 25-year-old won gold in both the 200m and 400m freestyle to take his overall tally of World Championship titles to nine.

And although she was third to Malaysia’s Cheong Jun Hoong in the 10m platform dive, 16-year-old Ren Qian took gold in both the mixed and women’s 10m synchronised platform.


Japan’s Yui Ohashi showed real promise in 200m individual medley, taking the silver medal. Source: Reuters/Michael Dalder

Japan increase their medal haul from last time (but with no golds)

It was a mixed championships for Japan, who improved their medal tally of eight from 2015 by making it onto the podium nine times in Budapest.

At the same time, though, there were no gold medals for a Japan team who won three – all in swimming – in 2015.

No one went closer to a gold for Japan than Junya Koga, who finished 0.16 seconds behind Camille Lacourt of France in the men’s 50m backstroke final.

Yui Ohashi, a gold medallist in the Asian Championships last year, set a new national record of 2 minutes 07.91 seconds as she took silver in the 200m individual medley. At 21, she remains one to watch in the coming years.

No repeat performance for North Korea in diving

North Korea’s haul of two medals, both in diving, was the same as it was in Kazan in 2015. This time, though, the colours were different and there was no repeat of Kim Kuk-hyang’s gold in the women’s 10m platform. Kim finished sixth this time, while team-mate Kim Mi-rae was fourth.

Working in tandem, the duo won silver in the 10m synchronised platform, while Kim Mi-rae and Hyon Il-myong took bronze in mixed 10m synchronised platform.