China beats US in shock victory to win gold in record-breaking women's 4x200m relay

Another major upset.

Lean Jinghui | July 29, 2021, 04:29 PM

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China smashed the world record to win the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on July 29.

The Chinese quartet of Yang Junxuan, Tang Muhan, Zhang Yufei and Li Bingjie touched the wall in a new world-record of 7:40.33, ahead of the United States (7:40.73) and Australia (7:41.29).

Unexpected thriller

Yang got China off to a strong start, leading Australia's superstar Ariarne Titmus, who had just won the women's 200m freestyle gold on July 28.

Tang and Zhang, second and third in the line-up, narrowly managed to hold onto the lead ahead of Australia powerhouses Emma McKeon and Madison Wilson.

While Zhang swum the slowest leg, she had also just clinched the gold in world record time in the women's 200m butterfly, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

In the final leg, U.S.'s Katie Ledecky, champion of the women's 1500m freestyle, managed to pull the U.S. back to second with the fastest 1:53.76, according to CNA.

But it was Li who brought it home for China, earning the team the prestigious Olympic gold.

Lauded by Chinese netizens

The results came as a shock given that the U.S. and Australia had dominated the heats leading up to the finals.

The two were widely seen as the pre-event favourites going into the race.

According to CNA, it was also the first time neither the Australians nor the Americans have won gold for the event, since it was introduced in 1996.

On Chinese social media platform Weibo, the hashtag #中国队女子4×200米自由泳接力夺金 (roughly translated: China's women's 4x200m freestyle relay team wins gold) was trending.

Many netizens congratulated the team for the win, with some adding that it was a proud moment as it was the first time China has ever won in any swimming relay.

Yang's father told Chinese media on Weibo that she was absolutely incredible, and that he was overjoyed that her many years of hard work and persistence had come to fruition.

The trending hashtag currently has over 470 million views.

Top image via Getty Images