LONDON, England, July 23. OLYMPIC gold medalist Tae Hwan Park is looking strong heading into the 2012 London Olympics, according to his Australian coach Michael Bohl.
“There are five days until the competition so we are trying to get him to continue to be very fit because the 400m (freestyle) is on the first day of competition,” Bohl said. “He looks pretty good. I've only seen him for the first time in about five days but he was swimming quite well at the training camp. He looks much better mentally.”
Park, who won the men's 400 freestyle with a 3:41.86 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, along with taking second in the 200 free with a 1:44.85 will compete in his third Olympics next week. He was disqualified in the 400 free at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Last summer, Park shook off a tough time at the 2009 World Championships with a victory in the 400 free at the World Championships in Shanghai with a 3:42.04. He never finaled at the 2009 World Championships, reaching the semis of the 200 free (1:46.68), and only swimming prelims of the 400 free (3:46.04) and 1500 free (15:00.87).
“The first process is getting through the heats. He has to make sure he is ranked in the top eight. He did not do a very good heat in Shanghai (at the 2011 world championships). Once you get to the final it is a very tough race from there,” Bohl said of Park's goals this year. “He was quite nervous after Worlds last year. He had a poor performance in Rome (2009 world championships). Being in Shanghai may have mentally knocked him round a bit but he is in a better frame of mind coming into this (Olympics). He has to think about putting the best 400m he can together. If he can do his best, there is a chance of doing everything, breaking a world record and winning the race.”
Bohl also believes there are a handful of chances for world records to fall next week in London.
“Maybe three or four, not too many,” Bohl said when asked to predict how many world records could fall. “I think (Ryan) Lochte and (Michael) Phelps could do it, Missy Franklin and James Magnusson in the freestyle have a chance, (but) not too many more. There are three people in the (men's 400 free) who can break the world record. Paul Biedermann is one, Sun (Yang) from China has gone 3:40.2. Tae Hwan Park has to take two seconds off his best to go under the record, Sun is much closer. But, there are three people well and truly capable of breaking the world record.”