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Park Wins Gold at Swim Championships

Posted August. 21, 2006 03:06,   


Korea could win its first swim gold medal in the Olympic Games.

17-year-old Park Tae-hwan (Kyunggi High School) rewrote the Korean swimming history yesterday after grabbing a gold medal with a record of three minutes 45.72 seconds in the Men’s 400m freestyle final of the 2006 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships held in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Park beat the Asian record of Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda (three minutes 47.28 seconds) and also reduced the Korean record of three minutes and 48.71 seconds he set at the East Asian Games last year by 2.99 seconds.

Park emerged as an international star winning a gold medal following a silver medal in the Men’s 200m Freestyle on August 18.

Park become the second Korean swimmer to take a gold medal in the regular course (50m course) at the international competition after Ji Sang-joon, then 22, won a gold medal in the Men’s 200m backstroke in the 1995 Fukuoka Universiade.

However, the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships holds a special meaning as world class swimmers from around the world including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan and China participate, while the Universiade is only for university students (including those graduated a year before).

Park won the championship, defeating all of the world-class swimmers such as the No. 1 ranked Fédération International de Natation Amateur (FINA) swimmer Klete Keller (U.S., three minutes 47.17 seconds at the game), No. 3 Peter Vanderkaay (U.S., 3 three minutes 49.42), No. 10 Matsuda (three minutes 50.96 seconds) and No. 20 Lin Jhang (China, three 47.07).

Winning the championship, Korea has good prospects for a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as well as the Doha Asian Games to be held in December.

In addition, Park is only a junior in the high school. Park already has a good build with 181 cm height and 71 kg weight, but is still growing, which will make him join the Beijing Olympic Games with the best physique and physical strength.

Park’s coach Woo Won-gi said, “Park is exceptional at getting into the water rhythm and has a great ability to play games,” and showed confidence in Park, saying, “Park could catch up with top-class swimmers once he builds up physical fitness and makes up for his turn movements.”

Even on the day when he won a gold medal in the Men’s 400m, Park showed his determination for the 1,500m to be held next day. Park called coach Woo and said, “I’m so happy to have a good record. I can’t afford to be complacent, I’ll do my best to have a gold medal in the 1,500m tomorrow.”