Sam Short takes aim at Sun Yang after historic feat at swimming world champs

The Aussie teenager has sent a message to the drug-tainted Chinese swimmer.

Sam Short and Sun Yang.
Sam Short wants to race Sun Yang at the Paris Olympics in 2024. Image: Getty

Aussie young gun Sam Short is setting his sights on a showdown with Sun Yang at the Olympics after winning 400m gold at the swimming world championships on Sunday night. The 19-year-old emulated Aussie legends Ian Thorpe, Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett by winning the 400m world title, doing so in the fourth-fastest time in history.

"They're my heroes," Short said. "I couldn't wait to get on the lane rope and start flexing, to be honest. It's what you dream about as a young guy."

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In the aftermath, Short turned his attention to the 2024 Paris Olympics - and the prospect of facing drug-tainted Chinese swimmer Sun Yang. The 19-year-old said he wants to race Sun in Paris next year.

"Bring it on," he said. "I watched him race in 2012, I was only nine years old then. I will be 20 in Paris so I am up to the challenge if he wants to come back, for sure."

Sun, who had many battles with Short's compatriot Mack Horton, was banned for eight years in 2020. However his suspension was reduced to four years on appeal.

The ban expires in May next year, while the Paris Games start on July 26. Sun, whose personal coach is Australian Denis Cotterell, has signalled his intention to return.

"I have not retired and still insist on swimming training every day," he said recently. "I have never said to the outside world that I am retired or not swimming.

"I have always believed that using my body and ability to do what I have to do and always be ready is my current state of mind. Four years is not long. I want to stick with it."

Sam Short after the 400m freestyle final at the swimming world championships.
Sam Short (centre) alongside Ahmed Hafnaoui (L) and Lukas Martens (R) after the 400m freestyle final at the swimming world championships. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Sam Short shines on golden night for Australia

Short's gold medal was one of four the Aussie team won on the opening night of competition in Fukuoka. Ariarne Titmus beat Katie Ledecky and Summer McIntosh with a world record time in the women's 400m, marking the first time Australia has ever done the double in the event at a world championships.

Titmus lost her world record to Summer McIntosh earlier this year, but took it back with an incredible swim on Sunday night. The Queenslander finished way ahead of the chasing pack, touching in a time of 3:55.38 and becoming the first woman ever to go under 3:56 in the event.

Both of Australia's 4x100m relay teams also won gold, with the women breaking their own world record set at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The women's team of Mollie O'Callaghan, Shayna Jack, Meg Harris and Emma McKeon clocked three minutes, 27.96 seconds, well inside the previous mark of 3:29.69. Jack Cartwright, Flynn Southam, Kai Taylor and Kyle Chalmers then won with a time of 3:10.16.

"I sat there with goosebumps all night," Chalmers said afterwards. "(For) Ariarne to break a world record and then the (relay) girls break a world record, I don't think Australia could ask for a better night.

"I have been on world championships teams where we have probably struggled to win four medals for the whole competition, let alone four gold medals on the first night. Shorty (Sam Short) ... we have sat there for the last two weeks watching him dominate training and talk the big game. And for him to deliver was that spine-tingling moment."

with AAP

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