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Disgraced Swimmer Park to `Go Back to Basics`

Posted August. 03, 2009 09:03,   


The maxim “Failure breeds success” could not hold more truth for swimming star Park Tae-hwan, who has pledged to “go back to basics” after his disappointing showing at the World Swimming Championships in Rome.

Park, 20, failed to qualify for the 1,500-meter freestyle final Saturday by finishing ninth overall with a time of 15:00.87. His personal best was 14:55.03 set in 2006 and his best time this season was 14:57.06 in May.

The swimmer failed to make the final in all three of his events: the 200, 400 and 1,500-meter freestyle.

Several days ago, Park said, “I did my best in training. I had a rough time between the national and my personal teams.”

After losing in the preliminary for the 1,500 meters, however, he took full responsibility for his defeat and expressed a strong commitment to prepare for his next challenge, saying, “I’ll go back to basics and remember the time when I first joined the national team as a middle schooler.”

In the 400 meters, Park finished a far cry from his personal best of 3:41.86, touching the wall at 3:46.04 in his heat. He also crashed out in the 200-meter semifinals at 1:46.68, below his record of 1:46.53 in his preliminary heat and off his personal best of 1:44.85.

He watched as Paul Biedermann of Germany won both the 200 and 400-meter freestyle by setting world records in each event. Park’s Asian rival Zhang Lin of China claimed gold in the 800-meter freestyle, setting a world record in process and wresting from Park the title of Asia’s top swimmer.

Eight-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps of the United States has won four golds in Rome, and set a world record in the 100-meter butterfly.

The championship saw 39 new world records set as of yesterday, but will be more remembered as the last allowing swimmers to wear cutting-edge body suits. The competition between swimsuit manufacturers triggered by Speedo’s introduction of the LZR Racer Suit in February last year has grown fiercer by the day. This has led to fears over “technological doping.”

Consequently, swimming’s world governing body FINA from January next year will ban polyurethane swimsuits and allow ones made with woven fabric only. Body suits introduced in the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics will no longer be worn by swimmers since FINA will only allow up to a half-body suit for men and knee-length suit for women.

Under such changes, the world can see whether the records set in this year’s championship were the work of cutting-edge technology or improvement of swimmers’ capabilities.