American swim star Ryan Lochte says he might have been beaten by a teenage girl whose gold medal at the London Olympics has set off a series of Chinese whispers.
China's 16-year-old sensation Ye Shiwen swam a section of her triumphant 400m individual medley in a time faster than Lochte and his feted compatriot Michael Phelps.
Shiwen broke Australian Stephanie Rice's world record in claiming the medley gold medal on Saturday night, clocking four minutes 28.43 seconds - more than a second quicker than Rice's previous world best.
The Chinese prodigy also turned in a remarkable late burst: covering the penultimate freestyle lap in 29.75s - faster than men's world record holder Phelps did in the men's 400m medley final.
Shiwen then astonishingly covered the final freestyle 50m in just 28.93s - faster than Lochte did when he won gold in the men's medley.
"It's pretty impressive," Lochte said on Sunday.
"If she was there with me, she might have beat me."
Shiwen's final 50m flourish was some 0.17s faster than Lochte, considered the greatest allround male swimmer in the world.
"It was a heck of a swim," said US swim team coach Gregg Troy, also Lochte's personal mentor.
China's checkered past in world swimming has been recalled in the wake of Shiwen's stunner - particularly when the nation's drug-tainted swimmers swept 13 of 16 medals of the 1994 world championships.
But Shiwen has long been logging incredible feats - as a 14-year-old she won the 2010 Asian Games 400m medley in a time some two seconds faster than Australia's Rice clocked at the London Olympics on Saturday night.
Join the conversation during the Olympics on FANGO as we bring you the pick of events over the two weeks.
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List of events:Thursday, August 2, 4.30am: James Magnussen’s 100m freestyle
Monday, August 6, 3.50am: Usain Bolt and the 100m final
Wednesday, August 8, 3.50am: Sally Pearson and the 100m hurdles.
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