Park Tae-hwan makes history without winning gold

September 26, 2014


After the medal ceremony, Sun Yang, left, gave Park tae-hwan a birthday cake. (Yonhap)

After the medal ceremony, Sun Yang, left, gave Park tae-hwan a birthday cake. (Yonhap)

INCHEON (Yonhap) — South Korean swimming hero Park Tae-hwan wrapped up the Asian Games at home on Friday with six medals, but none of them gold.

Park, who turns 25 on Saturday, has battled nerves all week, uncharacteristic for an athlete who has competed at three Olympics and three world championships, both bigger competitions than the Asian Games.

Park never did overcome the butterflies in his stomach while competing at Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Center. Yet he still managed to make history in an arena built in his honor. With the bronze in his final race Friday, the 4×100m medley relay, Park became the most decorated South Korean athlete in Asian Games history with 20 medals.

He missed chances to make even bigger history in earlier races. He came in having won the past two Asian Games gold medals in both the 200m and the 400m freestyle, but couldn’t make it three in a row in either of them, settling for bronze in both races.

He would have become the first freestyler, male or female, to win a race in three consecutive Asian Games.

He was the defending Asiad champ in the 100m freestyle, but despite his valiant effort, he ended up with a silver.

Park tried to end his Asian Games on a stronger note on Friday, but finished fourth in the 1,500m freestyle, well behind the champion, Sun Yang of China. South Korea did get the bronze in the relay, but ended nearly eight seconds behind champion China.

Park has been synonymous with South Korean swimming for nearly a decade. With Park unable to bag gold medals here, South Korea failed to win an Asiad swimming gold for the first time since 1978.

Park said afterward he was relieved to be done with the races here, and he will try to learn from his experience in Incheon.

“I should have taken advantage of competing in this major event at home, and I am disappointed that I couldn’t do it,” he said. “I am happy to have contributed to the bronze in the relay. My teammates also did their best to post a good time.”

Addressing his record medal tally, Park said he would’ve liked to have added another from the 1,500m freestyle.

“If I ever compete in another Asian Games, I will try to win more medals,” Park added



  1. Edward

    September 26, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Sun Yang: “Smell my finger. Smell my finger!”

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