Yang has world records in sight for Rio 2016

China’s Yang Yang will defend two Paralympic titles in September and aims to repeat his performances from London 2012. 19 Jul 2016
Man in wheelchair on the podium
China's Yang Yang during the men's 200m freestyle S2 victory ceremony at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain.
ⒸLuc Percival Photography
By Becki Ellsmore | For the IPC

“My main opponent is myself... In Rio, I want to make some breakthroughs, and beat myself.”

China’s quadruple Paralympic swimming champion Yang Yang is aiming to repeat his record-breaking performances from London 2012.

Yang made his international debut at the London 2012 Paralympic Games when he was just 15 years old. Despite his youth and inexperience, he powered to an impressive four gold medals, breaking records along the way.

Winning the 50m backstroke S2, and in 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle S2 events, he made an instant impression at his first major competition.

This year, at only 19 years old, he will return to defend two of his titles at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in September. His main aim is to “try to break world records,” a number of which he already owns.

At London 2012, in both the 100m freestyle S2 and the 50m backstroke S2, he achieved world record times in the heats. He then went on to break his own record – in the case of the 100m freestyle S2, by a huge seven seconds – in the final.

After his record-breaking performance in 2012, he went on to set a further four world records in three events in 2015: the 200m freestyle S2 at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships, and 200m freestyle S2 and 50m backstroke at the 2015 International Wheelchair and Amputee (IWAS) World Games in Sochi, Russia.

The event schedule for Rio 2016 includes the 200m S2 freestyle and 50m backstroke. However, the 50m and 100m freestyle S2 events will not feature this time.

He is prepared and ready to take on the challenge of his second Paralympics. “I am confident [about] Rio, because confidence is the foundation of success. One cannot make a thing without faith and confidence,” he said.

This time around, he will also be more experienced having become accustomed to the life of a high performance athlete. “The first time I was very excited, because I was young and it was my first time abroad,” Yang said, alluding to the fact that he is also less overawed by the bright lights of a Paralympics now.

His home country is proud of his achievements, nicknaming him the ‘Flying Fish,’ and pronouncing him the 2012 Para Athlete of the Year in Zhejiang.

The feeling is mutual for Yang: “Representing my country makes me feel proud, and it feels good.”

He began swimming at the age of 10 to help with rehabilitation and to improve his health and fitness, and subsequently discovered that not only did he enjoy swimming, but he was good at it too.

Like many of his competitors, Yang is currently following a strict training regime, consisting of “two training sessions per day, each lasting two hours... [I] rest only on Sundays.”

In these last few months, he is also preparing mentally for the challenge ahead. “[Having a] peaceful mind matters [in competition].”

He is not bothered by talk of rivals, though: “My main opponent is myself... [in Rio] I want to make some breakthroughs, and beat myself.”


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.

Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.