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Zhang aims to make even bigger splash at Paris Games

Xinhua| Updated: March 15, 2023 L M S


Zhang Yufei practices her butterfly technique. The Olympic champion will go for glory at the World Aquatics Championships in July and the Asian Games in September. WEI ZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

China's multiple Olympic gold medalist Zhang Yufei has set her sights on the 100m butterfly gold at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

"The 100m butterfly title is what I want the most. I hope to bring it back home," said Zhang, who won the women's 200m butterfly and 4x200m freestyle relay golds at the Tokyo Olympics.

Zhang, who finished runner-up in the 100m butterfly and mixed 4x100m medley relay in Tokyo, is also hopeful of more relay success in Paris.

"Looking back to what we did at the Tokyo Olympics, we can still improve on that in Paris," she explained.

"I need to help younger teammates mentally and improve their training level in these two years so that we can realize our dreams together."

Zhang added that she has high expectations for the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan in July and the Hangzhou Asian Games in September.

Winning the 200m butterfly at the worlds is the last piece of the puzzle in her attempt to sweep major honors in her career.

"Hopefully I can make it this time," she said.

As for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhang said she is looking forward to hearing the cheers of the home crowd, and is aiming to win the meet's Most Valuable Player award and break the 100m butterfly world record.

After becoming an Olympic champion, Zhang said her mentality has changed over the past two years.

"For a while after the Tokyo Olympics, I was afraid of defeat, which placed a huge burden on me. I could not accept settling for silver," she admitted.

"But after the short-course world championships at the end of last year, I felt that my winning mentality was always there but I was no longer afraid of defeat.

"I set a goal for each competition. As long as I reach that goal and gain experience, I can accept whatever result I get. After all, victory at the Olympic Games is my ultimate goal," she added.

Zhang, a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), attended the annual "two sessions "in Beijing last week.

The 24-year-old elite swimmer says she hopes younger teammates can step up and shoulder their responsibilities for China, and that more youths enjoy and engage in sports.

"Hopefully they can be more interested in sports and more willing to practice so that they can reap the fitness benefits," she said.

Zhang will next participate in the National Spring Season Swimming Championships in Qingdao, Shandong province later this month, which will act as one of the trial events to decide Team China's lineup for the worlds in Japan.

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