3-star Ning set for the big time

Chinese swimmer Ning Zetao declared that a painful knee problem which plagued his teenage years was behind him, after powering to his third gold at the Asian Games.

Ning (above) has shown no signs that he is anything other than 100 per cent fit this week at the Munhak Park Tae Hwan Aquatics Centre in Incheon.

The 21-year-old shaved more than half a second off his 100m freestyle Asian record when he clocked 47.70sec yesterday, the third fastest time in the world this year.

Ning has shone as brightly as Chinese superstar Sun Yang, anchoring China's 4x100m freestyle relay team to victory besides his wins in the 50m free and 100m free.

"I'm very excited with my gold medals. They are very important for me and the team," said Ning yesterday. "I broke the Asian record and I was under 48 seconds, which is very pleasing."

Ning was born with a bone infection in his right knee that left him in agony every time he trained his kicks.

The troubled youth also had a digestion problem which meant he could only eat soft food and could not complete a week of training for several years.

But after dominating the 100 free to add to his 50m title in the same stroke, Ning said he has been free of the knee pain since he stopped growing.

"I had knee problems until I was about 19 years old. It was very painful but it's okay now," the towering Chinese said.

The infection has left Ning with a protruding bone above his shin and a right knee that is noticeably bigger than the left.

"My right knee is a different shape to my left, it's thicker," he said, rolling up his trouser leg.

"It doesn't affect my swimming though because I have got used to it."

His next aim is to get on the podium at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, next year. - AFP.