Korea Has High Hopes for Swimmer Park Tae Hwan
kpride, Sept. 25, 2014, 8:55 a.m.
Korean swimming star Park Tae-hwan will get his last chances to redeem himself after a series of lackluster results in the men's 100-m freestyle in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon at the aquatics center named after him. Park picked up his fourth bronze medal of the games on Wednesday, as anchor for the four-man team in the 4x100-m medley relay.
Korea clocked 3:18.44, a bronze medal with a new national record. The previous Korean record was set during the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou with a time of 3:19.02. But China, led by Sun Yang, won a gold medal with 3:13.47 and Japan came second with 3:14.38. Park, who won three gold medals in both the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games, now has 18 Asiad medals under his belt. He has won six gold, three silver and nine bronze medals.
If he manages to win a medal in the men's 100-m freestyle on Thursday, he will tie the national record for the greatest number of Asian Games medals held by legendary shooter Park Byung-taek's 19 medals from six Asian Games. Park is the defending champion in the 100-m freestyle. His greatest challenge is to shrug off the weight of expectations on home turf that seems to have hamstrung him so far.
After finishing third in the 200-m and 400-m freestyle competitions, his main events, Park confessed that he had been overwhelmed by expectations and was mentally exhausted. His greatest rival in the 100-m freestyle is China's Ning Zetao, who holds the Asian record of 48.27 seconds and already won a gold medal in the 50-m freestyle on Tuesday.
Park's personal best in the 100-m freestyle is the 48.42 he set this year in the New South Wales Championships in Australia. He only has two more events remaining, the 100-m freestyle and 1,500-m freestyle.