Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has missed out on a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic final to be held on Saturday night (Sunday lunchtime AEST), in one of the major shocks of the Games.
Yang is the defending Olympic 1500m champion and the world record holder with a time of 14.31:02. But he finished seventh in his heat with a time of 15:01:97, after whispers he was unwell. Australia's Mack Horton qualified fourth fastest for the final in 14:48:47.
Yang is the swimmer whom Horton beat in a thrilling 400m final on the first night of swimming finals here in Rio. The Australian then said "this is one for the good guys", in a clear reference to the Chinese swimmer's drug-tainted past. Yang served a three month ban for a positive test in 2014 to a banned substance.
The war of words had actually started before that race, with Horton using the words "drug cheat" in reference to Yang. Nothing ambiguous about that, then.
Sun later won the 200m in Rio. All week here, barbs have been exchanged between the Chinese and Australians. It looked like sort of fight that could bubble over and seriously harm relations between the two countries.
But tensions appear to have fizzled, if the overnight men's basketball match between China and Australia in Rio is anything to go by. Fans in yellow sat next to fans in red and kicked around inflatable objects in an atmosphere of conviviality and fun.
Relax, everybody. World War III has not started quite yet.
So the Rio Olympic 1500m final will be free of the whole China Australia sideshow, and should still be a cracker of a race -- and a fitting conclusion to an Olympic swim meet with the Americans have again dominated, despite predictions Australia might threaten them.
Australia has won just three gold medals so far in the pool, compared to the USA's 11.
Interestingly, this is the first time every qualifier in an Olympic 1500m final is under the magic 15 minute mark. As recently as 1988, the Olympic final was won by a swim in excess of 15 minutes.Suggest a correction