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LONDON, England, July 28. IN a preliminary session already stocked with storylines, the men's 400-meter freestyle proved to be dramatic at the 2012 London Olympics, with a huge disqualification.
China's Sun Yang, the world record holder in the men's 1500 freestyle event, led the way in the middle distance affair with a 3:45.07. He's got much more left in the tank with a third-ranked lifetime best of 3:40.29 from September 2011. Sun is in position to become China's first gold medalist in the event's history. Zhang Lin became China's first medalist ever in the event with a silver-winning 3:42.44 in 2008, but missed the squad this year after multiple qualifying attempts.
“I'm satisfied with the race. I'm very disappointed for Park,” Sun said. “I was really looking forward to racing him in the final and now that won't happen. As for me, I'm happy with my race.”
The biggest surprise proved to be defending gold medalist Tae Hwan Park of South Korea. After turning in a 3:46.68 in the heats, he was disqualified due to a false start. This is his second disqualification in the last three Olympics. He also drew a disqualification in the men's 400-meter freestyle preliminary heats of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“I don't know why I was disqualified, I will have to speak to my coach,” Park said after his swim.
South Korea has decided to protest the result, and the FINA Bureau overturned the disqualification.
Team USA went 2-3 in qualifying with Peter Vanderkaay taking second in 3:45.80, and Conor Dwyer checking in with a 3:46.24. The duo has some work to do if they want to be the first U.S. gold medalist since George DiCarlo topped teammate John Mykkanen, 3:51.23 to 3:51.49, at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Hungary's Gergo Kis finished fourth in 3:46.77 and could become Hungary's first medalist in the event's history, while China's Hao Yun (3:46.88), Australia's Ryan Napoleon (3:47.01), Great Britain's David Carry (3:47.25) and Canada's Ryan Cochrane (3:47.26) initially rounded out the championship heat.
However, with Park's disqualification being overturned, Cochrane was bumped out of finals to ninth, while Faroese star Pal Joensen, swimming for Denmark, just missed finals with a 10th-place 3:47.36. World-record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany also missed finals with a 13th-place 3:48.50.
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