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Park set for worlds in Shanghai

The time has come. South Korean swimming star Park Tae-hwan arrived in Shanghai on Monday to compete in the 2011 World Swimming Championships. For Park, the biennial event, which is running until July 31, is an opportunity to erase the memory of his meltdown two years ago.

At the previous championships in Rome, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist failed to make it into the finals in any race.
Last month, Park Tae-hwan notched three gold medals at the Santa Clara Grand Prix. (Yonhap News)
Last month, Park Tae-hwan notched three gold medals at the Santa Clara Grand Prix. (Yonhap News)

But this year, having teamed up with Australian coach Michael Bohl, and finishing strong at the 2010 Asian Games, the 22-year-old is back on top form.

Last month, Park notched three gold medals at the Santa Clara Grand Prix. In the 100-meter freestyle race, Park defeated American swim great Michael Phelps for the first time to claim the gold medal. He also won the 400 m freestyle and 200 m freestyle at the event, raising expectations ahead of the Shanghai competition.

In Shanghai, the freestyle specialist is scheduled to compete in three races, including the 100 m, 200 m and 400 m.

The 14th FINA Swimming World Championships, running from July 16 to 31, are divided into 66 events, 47 in swimming, 10 in diving, seven in synchronized swimming and two in water polo. A total of 5,724 athletes from more than 180 countries have confirmed their participation.

The men’s 400 m freestyle is expected to be one of the fiercest races of this year’s championships with the likes of Olympic champion Park and Chinese rising star Sun Yang competing.

In the men’s 200 m freestyle, Park is expected to compete against Phelps.

Former Olympic champion Ian Thorpe, who retired in 2006, is set to end his four-year hiatus and to return for the 200 m race.

Park is scheduled to compete in his first race in the 400 m freestyle on Sunday. The 200 m and 100 m finals are scheduled on July 26 and 28, respectively. The reigning 400 m champion said earlier that he was determined to make up for his disappointing 2009 World Championships, and also noted that he was aiming to set a new record in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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