The People’s Republic of China’s federation will not be sending a national team squad to the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in a few weeks. Instead, officials have decided to put together a team composed of swimmers mainly hailing from the provinces of Beijing and Jiangsu.
This decision came about as a result of the 13th Games of the People’s Republic of China held from May 17-19 in Tianjing, China. This competition is held every four years and the year right after the Olympics. It is a very significant event across the country for athletes in a wide variety of sports. Consequently, all synchronized swimmers were busy training with their own province teams at this meet, and thus no national team trial was held.
Due to the lack of time to go through trials, and to select and work with the team following the event and before the World Championships, the federation decided to instead favor the already-existing provincial teams. The Beijing province team won the free combination event in Tianjing, while the Jiangsu team grabbed the gold in the team event.
A similar situation occurred in 2013, where the nation did not end up sending a team (only a solo and a duet) to the World Championships held in Barcelona, Spain for the same reasons. Nevertheless, the federation felt it was important to have the country represented at the World Championships in the team events this time around.
Additionally, China will send for the first time a mixed duet to Worlds, and will be represented by the pair from the Tianjin province: Sheng Shuwen and Shi Haoyu.
While we do not have further information on the full roster of this ‘province-mix’ team or more details on what we can expect routine-wise, we already know that some of the best Chinese swimmers from the 2016 Olympics are not part of this selection.
Team veteran, three-time Olympian, longtime soloist and 2016 duet and team member Huang Xuechen will not be in Budapest. It is possible one of the selected province swimmers may present a solo but it has not been confirmed at the moment. Furthermore, Huang’s longtime duet partner and three-time Olympic silver medalist Sun Wenyan also will not be in Hungary.
While it is unfortunate we will not have an ‘official’ Chinese national team at Worlds this year, this gives us a chance to witness the depth of talent the country has, as these swimmers will undoubtedly display great skills and talent and we should not count them out. This will also provide a chance for the nation to be represented at one of the biggest stage for synchronized swimming while giving an incredible opportunity to these swimmers that may never have been there otherwise.
At the last World Championships in Kazan, Russia in 2015, China earned six silver medals and one bronze. At the 2016 Olympic Games, it placed second behind Russia in both the team and duet events.