Park Tae Hwan Has His Eyes Set on World Championship Gold in Budapest

Photo Courtesy: Caroline Kosciusko

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With just about 37 days until swimming begins in Budapest for the 2017 FINA World Championships, South Korean veteran Park Tae Hwan has announced his intentions to go for gold this summer at the World Championships. The 27-year-old told Yonhap News in South Korea that he wanted to win gold at his first World Championships in six years.

Park last competed at a long course World Championships in 2011 when he won gold in the 400 free and finished fourth in the 200 free in Shanghai. Park skipped the 2013 World’s and missed the meet in 2015 due to a doping suspension he was serving. The Korean has two other World Championship medals with a gold and a bronze from the 2007 World’s in Melbourne ten years ago when he was 17.

Park has qualified to swim the 100, 200, 400 and 1500 free in Budapest, with intentions of doing the best in the 200 and 400 free. Park has the sixth fastest time in the 200 this year (1:46.71) and the fourth fastest in the 400 (3:44.38) when he swam those times at the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Atlanta in May.

“I think people want me to say, ‘I will come back here with a gold medal,” Park said at a press conference in Seoul. “Of course, I want to win the gold medal.”

Park also swam a 15:06.38 in the 1500 and a 48.62 in the 100 in Atlanta, good for 18th and 10th on the world rankings list.

“As an athlete, you want to collect a good result in every event,” he said. “But I especially want to do well in the 200m and the 400m, and I hope I can beat my personal best this time.”

Park had a disappointing Olympics when he did not advance in either the 100, 200 or 400 free, as well as scratched the 1500. Park rebounded a few months later to win three gold medals at the World Short Course Championships in Windsor with wins in the 200, 400 and 1500.

With the success at the World Short Course Championships, Park said he is confident of a better performance at the upcoming long course World Championships.

“Through last year’s final competition, I realized that I still have energy to compete and can race,” he said. “Although I started this season late, I’m quickly building up my form and training without injuries. I can do better.”

The 200 and 400 free finals have been relatively wide open the last few years on the international stage. China’s Sun Yang (3:42.16), Italy’s Gabriele Detti (3:43.36) and Australia’s Mack Horton (3:44.18) have all been faster than Park this year in the 400. Sun (1:44.91), Detti (1:46.38), China’s Wang Shun (1:46.57) and the British duo of James Guy (1:45.55) and Duncan Scott (1:45.80) have swum faster than Park in the 200 this year.

“It’s not about competition, but I frequently thought about how I need to show something and prove myself,” he said. “For this year’s worlds, we’ll see newcomers and those who have performed well at the Olympics, so this is a good opportunity for me.”

Read the full report from Yonhap News here.

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  1. Hoang Le

    Park and Sun in 200-400 free

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