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March 7, 2019

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Home » Sports » Swimming

Ex-world champ Ning quits at 26

CHINA’S former 100-meter freestyle world champion and swimming pin-up Ning Zetao announced his retirement from the sport yesterday, his 26th birthday.

A fan favorite in China because of his ability and looks, Ning made history by winning the 100 free world title in 2015 and was a four-time gold medalist at the Asian Games a year earlier in Incheon, South Korea.

The Asiad marked a perfect international debut for Ning.

His 100 free gold in Kazan, Russia, marked a milestone achievement, as prior to Ning’s victory no Asian swimmer had ever advanced to the final or won medals in the event at the world championships.

His career, however, has been on the slide ever since and the 26-year-old hangs up his trunks with the reputation of a talent never fulfilled.

Ning, who served a one-year suspension after testing positive for clenbuterol in 2011, announced his retirement on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, where he boasts 7.9 million fans.

“Don’t be afraid of the past and the future! Say good-bye to the swimming pool and blue water and restart my own new life,” Ning wrote.

“Thank you, my dear fans! I wish you all the best.”

He added in English: “The way to success is never easy, push yourself and DO NOT SETTLE.”

After his feat at the Kazan world championships, the colorful Ning looked set to star at the Olympics.

But the Henan Province native bombed at Rio 2016, where he failed to qualify for the 100 free final.

In February 2017 he was thrown out of the Chinese national team for “violating the rules” over sponsorship.

He was unable to defend his world title later that year after failing to qualify for the showpiece, citing an abdominal injury. Ning also didn’t make the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.


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