By Ian Ransom

DOHA (Reuters) -China’s teen sensation Pan Zhanle set the men’s 100 metres freestyle world record at the swimming World Championships in Doha on Sunday with a stunning leadoff swim in the 4x100m relay to power his nation to the title.

The 19-year-old clocked 46.80 seconds, eclipsing the previous mark of 46.86 set by Romania’s David Popovici, as the opening day of the event finished with a bang at the Aspire Dome pool.

The amazing swim lifts the teenager into favourite for the 100m gold medal at the Paris Olympics.

A calm Pan said he had not been hunting the world record.

“Actually at this meet, the main thing for me was to perform,” he told reporters.

“My next goal is to swim fast — faster and faster.

“I don’t know (how fast).”

The 19-year-old flirted with record pace at the Asian Games in Hangzhou last year.

He became the first Asian swimmer to break the 47 seconds barrier in the event and clocked an incredible 46.65 in a relay leg. Only the leadoff leg of a relay counts as a world record.

China, featuring Pan, Ji Xinjie, Zhang Zhanshuo and Wang Haoyu, won the 4x100m relay title by a full second from runners-up Italy, with the United States third.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Doha; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Christian Radnedge)

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