Skip to content

China’s Sun Yang wants freedom from the state

Nov 21, 2012, 1:53 PM EST

462896_ORIG Reuters

China’s Sun Yang destroyed the field (and the world record) in London’s 1500m freestyle swim, and then threw in another gold in the 400m free, and a silver and bronze to wrap up a nice little Olympics.

Now the 20-year-old has even bigger goals of fame and fortune, and hopes he can distance himself from the state-run marketing and endorsement system so he can test the waters on his own.

“I don’t have my own professional agency team, but it’s my wish,” Sun, who has been in discussions with China’s swimming governing body, told the China Daily before a shoot with Esquire magazine. “We still belong to the nation and can only be managed by the center. I’d love to push for changes, but it won’t be easy.”

To be fair, the state system, which also helps Sun with training and logistics, isn’t doing too terrible of a job nurturing its star: according to the China Brand Research Institute, the swimmer is set to earn about $20 million next year through endorsements with Coca-Cola and other major brands