China Olympic swim champion sorry for driving offence
Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang prepares to compete before winning gold in the Men's 400m Freestyle event during the National China Games in Shenyang on September 4, 2013
Sun, a huge star in China after winning the 400m and 1500m freestyle golds at London 2012, admitted the offence in a post on his verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Reports said the white luxury vehicle he was driving -- which he said was borrowed from a relative -- was rear-ended by a bus in the eastern city of Hangzhou, but Internet users reacted angrily.
"The incident has caused enormous impact on society and the public," said Sun's post. "I'm deeply sorry and will reflect profoundly on it."
The 21-year-old added that the "mistake" was due to his "meagre knowledge of the law" because he had been "busy with training".
But his apology provoked a furious response, with Chinese Internet users blasting his behaviour as endangering others' lives, and him for trying to underplay its seriousness.
"As a public figure, how dare he to beg for forgiveness after making such a wilful mistake by treating other people's lives as a joke?" wrote one Sina Weibo user.
Other users pointed out that it was "common sense" that driving without a licence was illegal.
"Did you only get a diploma from a kindergarten? Even primary school students know that you need to have a licence to drive a car," said a poster with the username Expired Yogurt.
Sun faces a fine of between 200 and 2,000 yuan ($33 to $330) and could be sentenced to up to 15 days detention, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Driving rules and traffic laws are widely flouted in China, where violations of the rules of the road by the rich or powerful are particularly sensitive.
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