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China's Pan eyes Olympics after world freestyle triumph

World Aquatics Championships - Aspire Dome, Doha, Qatar - February 15, 2024 Gold medallist China's Zhanle Pan celebrates with his medal after winning the men's 100m freestyle final
World Aquatics Championships - Aspire Dome, Doha, Qatar - February 15, 2024 Gold medallist China's Zhanle Pan celebrates with his medal after winning the men's 100m freestyle final
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Doha: China's Pan Zhanle won the men's 100 metres freestyle title at the world championships in Doha on Thursday, establishing his status as one of the favourites for Olympic gold in five months' time. The 19-year-old came home in 47.53sec, 0.19sec ahead of Italian Alessandro Miressi with Hungarian Nandor Nemeth third at 0.25.


It was a first individual medal at a world championship for Pan who should make his Olympic debut in Paris in July where he is likely to face fellow 19-year-old David Popovici of Romania, whose world record he bettered at the weekend, and the man whose world title he took, Australian Kyle Chalmers.


Both opted to miss the awkwardly-timed championships.


"I've prepared very well. I know this is just the beginning and I'm going to keep on working," Pan said during the poolside interview. "See you in Paris."


Pan set a new world record of 46.80sec leading off as China won the freestyle relay on Sunday after a blazing first lap of 22.26. This time he was more conservative, turning in 22.55, but was still in first, just ahead of Miressi. Pan said he had been "a little bit stressed" ahead of his first individual final of the competition. "The time was not very good," he said. China closed the evening by collecting a second gold of the day in the women's 200m freestyle relay.


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