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Park Tae-hwan leaves for Sydney to begin prep for worlds
INCHEON, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) — South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan left for Sydney on Wednesday to begin preparing for the world championships this summer.
The former Olympic champion last competed at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Canada two months ago. He won three titles there, and had been doing light training on his own at home.
Park has now set his sights on the world championships in Budapest, Hungary, in July. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the 400m freestyle also has two world titles in that distance — from 2007 and 2011.
In Sydney, Park will be reunited with Australian coach Tim Lane, who first worked with the South Korean in March last year, right after Park’s 18-month doping suspension ended.
Park will return to South Korea for the national team trials, though the schedule hasn’t been determined.
Park rebounded from a disastrous Rio de Janeiro Olympics last August — he was knocked out of heats in three races — to close out his 2016 season on a strong note. And he said Wednesday he’d like to build on that momentum in the new year.
“I’d like to hang something glittering around my neck this year, too,” Park told reporters at Incheon International Airport, in an apparent nod to a world championships medal.
Park said he hasn’t decided which races he will enter in Budapest but his focus during the training will be on his two main events, the 200m and 400m freestyle.
“I’ll take the intensity of my training up a notch in Australia,” he added. “As I get older, I may lag behind others in endurance, so I need to keep doing long-distance training. I’ve been away from competition for so long, and I need to bear down and get back into form.”