BARCELONA: Olympic champion Sun Yang of China claimed men's 400m freestyle gold at swimming's world championships in Sunday's final to complete the set of major titles in the event.
Just as he did in the London 2012 final, the 21-year-old Chinese dominated early on in Barcelona to add the 400m world title to the 800m and 1500m freestyle gold medals he won two years ago in Shanghai.
Sun clocked 3min 41.59sec, finishing more than three seconds ahead of Japan's Kosuke Hagino, who swam 3:44.82, while Connor Jaeger of the USA finished in 3:44.85 to claim third.
"I give thanks to my coach and my parents," said an emotional Sun, who has moved his training base to Hong Kong in the last year.
"I have been training for this for the past 10 years and it has paid off."
Sun has had a turbulent 12 months since his London triumph after a row with his coach over the giant swimmer's love affair with an air stewardess.
Sun, the tall distance specialist from Zhejiang, rejected coach Zhu Zhigen's demand that he stop seeing his new girlfriend and concentrate on his swimming instead.
Despite a public show of reconciliation with Zhu, Sun has been training in Hong Kong under former Chinese head coach Zhang Yadong.
"Over the last year, I have experienced a lot of new things and I still managed to win the gold medal," said Sun.
"I have overcame many problems and proved myself tonight.
"I am very satisfied with my performance and I hope to have an even better performance in my other events."
At the halfway stage, Sun was on track to break Paul Biedermann's world record of 3:40.07, set four years ago at the Rome world championships, but the German ultimately holds on to the mark set using the now-banned high-tech suits.
After Sun finished second in the 400m freestyle at the Shanghai 2011 world championships, the 1500m freestyle world record-holder will be aiming to defend his 800m freestyle crown when the heats start on Tuesday.
Japanese teenager Hagino, who won Olympc 400m individual medley bronze in London last year, was not happy with his time, but delighted with his silver.
"It?s a really tough challenge for me, but I am trying to do my best and hopefully I will get a few more medals," said the 18-year-old Hagino, who won five titles at this year's Japanese national championships.
Bronze-winner Jaeger, 22, said he had endured a steep learning curve en route to claiming his first medal at a major event.
"I was in a pretty slow heat and I learned a lesson from that, you're never safe just because you win your heat," he said.
"There was a minute I didn't even think I'd get another swim, so I just went into the final with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and that turned into a great result."