Canberra, Jun 8: Yang Xu had never thought of going to a big international event like Universiade even before last year.
But now the 20-year-old, who is also known by his English name as William, carried the hope of Australia in the swimming events.
"I hope that I could get a good result at the Universiade in Naples, and thus swim to the Tokyo Olympics next year," said the Chinese Australian student who now studies at the University of Sydney, majoring in architecture, design and planning.
Yang, born in Australia, started learning swimming at the age of four, before he went back to China two years later with his parents.
"I worked in Guangzhou, where we sent him to a swimming class, and the coach said that he was gifted in that sport," recalled the father Yang Qingquan, who is still a Chinese citizen.
Yang Xu returned to Australia at 11. Since then he continued swimming as a hobby.
Swimming is a traditional pet event in Australia, where it was hard for Yang, a Chinese, to carve out a career.
"I was so dissatisfied with my results that I thought of giving up," admitted the swimmer.
Last year his elder sister got a chance to study in New York for a month, and the entire family went with her.
"The swimming coach of a renowned university had invited me to study there, so I took the chance to visit the school." Yang recalled seeing the university records. "I could break all of them," he said.
The visit changed his idea and he decided to carry on.
In April last year Yang began training with his new coach, retired swimmer Bobby Hurley, who was the former world record holder in the short-course 50 meters backstroke and 2012 world champion in the same event.
His efforts paid off. In Adelaide this April, Yang took the 50m butterfly gold with 23.23 seconds at the Australian Swimming Championships before claiming his second title in the 50m backstroke, recording his personal-best time of 24.98.
Looking into the Universiade, Yang was ambitious. "I hope that I could maintain my good form and get a good result."
His ambition is not limited to Naples. "I also would like to gain some experience for my Olympics preparation," he said.