South Korean Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan announced Friday he'll skip this year's Asian Games in Indonesia, citing his poor form.
"I've realized that I am in no shape to post good records," Park said in a statement released by his agency, Team GMP. "Rather than saying I am retiring, I'd like to take some time to think about my future."
Park, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the men's 400-meter freestyle, won four races at the national team trials in April, and the Korea Swimming Federation on Wednesday placed Park on the team to compete at the Aug. 18-Sept. 2 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
South Korea’s top swimmer Park Tae-hwan. (Reuters)
Park, 28, is still training in Australia. He said he has never taken more than a week off from training since 2016, but a recent series of practices convinced him that he wouldn't be able to perform the way he wanted.
Park also said he decided to make his announcement as early as possible, without waiting until he'd return to South Korea, in order to give KSF enough time to name his replacement and continue on with the Asian Games preparations.
Park has raced at every Asian Games since 2006 and has won six gold, three silver and five bronze medals.
As a high school sophomore in 2006 in Doha, Qatar, Park captured gold medals in the 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle en route to earning the competition's MVP honors.
Four years later in Guangzhou, China, Park captured gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle races.
At the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea's Incheon, Park competed at an arena bearing his name, but his one silver and five bronze medals got wiped out from the record books after his positive doping test.
After serving an 18-month doping ban, Park entered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro but failed to make it out of the heats in the 100m, 200m and 400m free. He later withdrew from the 1,500m free.
Amid speculation that he would retire, Park has bounced back, finishing fourth in the 400m free at the 2017 world championships and narrowly missing his fourth career medal at the biennial competition.
The 400m freestyle remains Park's main event. In winning the national team trials two months ago, Park finished his 400m in 3:46.50, the seventh-fastest time in the world this year. Mack Horton of Australia leads all swimmers in 2018 with a time of 3:43.76. Park's personal best time is 3:41.53, set at the 2010 Asiad. (Yonhap)