Heading to Japan to compete at the World Championships
South Korea seeks back-to-back medals at first two events
Hwang Sun-woo (20-Gangwon Provincial Office-Photo) will attempt to become the first South Korean swimmer in history to win back-to-back medals at the World Championships.
“I will definitely try to win a medal in the 200-meter freestyle and the 800-meter freestyle relay,” Hwang said as he departed for Fukuoka, Japan, the final stop of this year’s World Championships, along with other athletes from the management program. Hwang will start the 200m freestyle heats on Thursday, followed by the 100m freestyle on Saturday and the 800m freestyle relay on Sunday.
Hwang won a silver medal in the men’s 200-meter freestyle last year in Budapest, Hungary, in a Korean record time of 1:44.47. It was South Korea’s first world championship medal in 11 years since Park Tae-hwan, 34, won gold in the 400 freestyle in Shanghai, China, in 2011. The biennial swimming world championships were held last year after the 2019 edition in Gwangju, South Korea, was canceled in 2021 due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
If Hwang stands on the podium in Fukuoka, he will become the first swimmer to win a medal at two consecutive World Championships, a feat not accomplished since Park Tae-hwan, also known as “Marine Boy. Park won two medals at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, winning gold in the 400m freestyle and bronze in the 200m freestyle, but failed to reach the podium at the next World Championships in Rome in 2009.
“In the 200m freestyle, I have to be on the podium,” Hwang said as he left for Fukuoka on Tuesday for the final. Hwang’s toughest rival in the event will be defending world champion David Popovic (19-ROM), who won the 200m freestyle. Also to watch out for is China’s Fan Zhanle, 19, whose performance has surged ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games in September.
Fan Zhanle broke the Asian record of 47.22 in the 100-meter freestyle at the Chinese national team trials in May, a year and 10 months after Huang Sunwu’s 47.56. Fan Zhanle also improved his time to 1:44.65 in the 200-meter freestyle at the Chinese National Team Trials, coming within 0.18 seconds of Huang’s best time. “If I keep improving my time, the gap between me and Popovic can be reduced,” said Huang. Pan Zhanle is running a good time, 고스톱 so I can focus more on that,” said Huang.