Posted August. 11, 2008 06:49,
Swimming sensation Park Tae-hwan yesterday made Korean Olympic history by winning his countrys first gold medal in the sport.
Nicknamed Marine Boy after the 1970s cartoon hero, Park claimed the 400-meter freestyle at the Beijing Summer Olympics, beating runner-up Zhang Lin of China and bronze medalist Larsen Jensen of the United States.
Parks winning time of 3 minutes, 41.86 seconds also set an Asian record, and was the second fastest in Olympic history.
Grant Hackett of Australia, the favorite to win the event, finished a disappointing sixth.
Park is also the first Asian male to win an Olympic gold in swimming in 72 years. Noboru Terada of Japan won the mens 1,500-meter freestyle in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
After winning the world title in the same event last year, Park drew international attention over whether the long-standing domination of the West in swimming was coming to an end.
It is also significant that Zhang Lin of China came in second. The gold and silver winners were both Asian, and this is important, too, said Noh Min-sang, coach of the Korean swim team.
Park concentrated on building muscle strength, endurance and better techniques to get an edge over his taller and better-built competitors.
Hackett started strong but Park kept up, then took over in the middle of the race.