SPORTS

Park Tae-hwan grabs 2nd gold at short course worlds

By 임정요
  • Published : Dec 8, 2016 - 17:43
  • Updated : Dec 8, 2016 - 17:43

Park Tae-hwan has grabbed his second gold medal at the world's top short course competition.

The South Korean star won the men's 200-meter freestyle at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Windsor, Canada, on Wednesday (local time), with a record time of 1 minute, 41.03 seconds.

Park broke the previous meet record, held by Ryan Lochte of the United States since 2010, by 0.05 second. Park also surpassed his own Asian record of 1:42.22, set in Berlin in 2007.

On Tuesday, Park won the 400m freestyle gold in Windsor.

The short course worlds take place in 25m pools, half the length of Olympic-sized pools and other international competitions.

Park is making his first appearance at the 25m worlds since April 2006 in Shanghai, and the first at any short course meet since November 2007.

Chad le Clos of South Africa finished second to Park at 1:41.65, followed by Aleksandr Krasnykh of Russia in 1:41.95.

Park was seventh in the heats, and was assigned the first lane in the final. But Park charged out in front early and stayed there, fending off le Clos over the final stretch.

Park, who won the 2008 Olympic gold in the 400m free, is scheduled to compete in the 100m and 1,500m freestyle races this weekend. This is Park's final meet of 2016.

Park is wrapping up what has been a roller-coaster year on a high note.

The 27-year-old served an 18-month doping ban that ended in March. He then challenged the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) at an international court for the right to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics in August.

Park was granted his wish barely a month before the Olympics, but he had disastrous performances in Rio, where he failed to make it out of the heats in the 100m, 200m and 400m free. Park withdrew from the 1,500m at the last minute.

Park bounced back to capture two races at the National Sports Festival in October. Then at the Asian Swimming Championships in Tokyo last month, Park picked up four gold medals.

His 200m freestyle winning time in Tokyo, 1:45.16, would have been good enough for the silver in Rio.

After the Asian event, Park claimed former vice sports minister Kim Chong had blackmailed him into giving up on his Rio Olympic dreams in May. Kim is a key government figure implicated in the influence-peddling scandal centered on President Park Geun-hye and her long-time confidante, Choi Soon-sil. Kim resigned from his post in the wake of the controversy.

In a video interview posted on FINA's website, Park said he was "so happy" to have won two titles in as many days.

"In Rio, I had a very bad finish, but after that, I had good times at the national event and I kept training harder," Park said.

"Then at the long course event in Tokyo, I did well."

Park said the last 50m "was very dangerous" given le Clos' speed, but when asked if he was watching his rivals in middle lanes, Park said, "No, (I was swimming) just by myself." (Yonhap)