INCHEON, South Korea — China’s double Olympic champion Sun Yang will skip the Asian Games 4×200 meters freestyle relay on Monday after hurting his thumb in the individual event, Chinese media reported. The towering Sun, beaten to gold by Japan’s Kosuke Hagino in Sunday’s 200 final, will rest for Tuesday’s 400 freestyle, when he once again faces the Japanese and South Korean rival Park Tae-Hwan. “Sun will not race in the 4x200m relay tonight,” Sun’s coach Zhang Yadong told China’s Xinhua news agency.
The reigning Olympic 400 and 1,500 meters champion will not pull out of the Games in South Korea however and will take part in the individual races. “He will not quit,” insisted Zhang. “All strong men grow up in disadvantaged environment.” Sun blamed a left thumb injury for his shock loss to Hagino in the 200 meters, saying he caught it on the final turn before being touched out by the Japanese with local hero Park relegated to bronze. Chinese media carried photos of Sun’s taped left hand on Monday, reporting that the controversial star had suffered swelling to his thumb and had gone to hospital late at night following the race, costing him valuable sleep. His withdrawal from Monday’s relay gives Japan a clear advantage as the fierce rivals battle it out for supremacy of the Asian Games pool. The two countries split the first day’s gold medals 3-3.