News, Culture & Society

Mystery as Chinese star is suddenly scratched from World Championships in Melbourne

Mystery as Chinese star who obliterated Aussie golden girl Ariarne Titmus’ record is suddenly scratched from World Championships in Melbourne

  • China’s 400m freestyle world record holder was a late scratching in Melbourne 
  • Li Bingjie, 20, shattered Ariarne Titmus’ world record earlier this year 
  • However, she was reportedly ill and unavailable to compete on Tuesday night
  • It remains to be seen whether she competes at her other events this week 

There were eyebrows raised at the short-course world championships in Melbourne on Tuesday when Chinese sensation Li Bingjie was scratched from the women’s 400m freestyle.

The 20-year-old was a late scratching after failing to show for the race, reportedly succumbing to illness after arriving in Australia with a high fever. It remains unclear whether she will return for her other events later this week,

Bingjie snared the 400m short-course world record from Australia’s golden girl, Ariarne Titmus, in October, stopping the clock at 3:51.30 during China’s national championships. 

Chinese swimming sensation Li Bingjie was a notable absentee at the world championships

She is scheduled for the 800m freestyle on Wednesday, the 1500m on Friday and the 200m on Sunday.

‘That is a surprise. That is a shock. We are expecting to see Li Bingjie. We have been talking about her and what performance she will be able to have here,’ Ian Thorpe told Channel 9.

‘What a shock not to see the world record holder swim in this event.’

Chinese team management are yet to confirm details behind her absence. Titmus also skipped the meet.

The 400m world record holder failed to turn up amid reports she was ill with a high fever

The 400m world record holder failed to turn up amid reports she was ill with a high fever

Lani Pallister made the most of the absence of world champion Bingjie to win Australia’s first gold medal of the world short course championships in Melbourne.

The daughter of former Australian distance swimming great Janelle Elford, Pallister qualified second fastest into the 400m freestyle final behind Kiwi Erica Fairweather.

But Pallister turned the tables in the final, powering home in three minutes 55.04 seconds.

A former world junior champion, the 20-year-old has had a horror run with injury and illness over the past 18 months, undergoing heart surgery as well as battling an eating disorder and glandular fever.

She wasn’t thrilled with her time but was delighted to have won gold with her mum in the stands after almost giving the sport away.

Bingjie broke the world record of Australia's golden girl, Ariarne Titmus, earlier this year

Bingjie broke the world record of Australia’s golden girl, Ariarne Titmus, earlier this year

‘I pretty much gave this sport away at the end of last year – I hadn’t trained for close to three months and didn’t really want anything to do with it anymore,’ Pallister told reporters.

‘It was more that I lost my love for the sport as I’d missed four senior teams in a row by one spot, which when you’re that close constantly, it’s just kind of like breaks your heart one by one.

‘So to be in the position that I am at the moment … now competing here at short course with a gold medal is just insane.’

Pallister won a bronze medal in the 1500m at this year’s world championships and finished fourth in the 400m, while she won Commonwealth Games bronze in the 800m.

She swept the pool at the national short course championships, winning the 400m, 800m and 1500m.

Pallister will contest all three events this week and has high hopes.

‘As much as I’m not 100 per cent happy with the time I am excited to jump into the 1500 and 800 as I’ve been doing a lot more distance work than speed work in the pool,’ she said.