Forget the glory of Fukuoka. Now it’s Hangzhou.
The Korean swimming management team, which broke eight Korean records at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, returned home through Incheon International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.
At the forefront of Korea’s swimming ‘renaissance’ was Hwang Sun-woo (20-Gangwon Provincial Office). Four of the eight Korean records at the Fukuoka Games were set in events in which Hwang competed.
Hwang finished third in the men’s 200-meter freestyle final in 1:44.42, a new Korean record. Hwang, who won a silver medal in 1:44.47 last year in Budapest, Hungary, also stood on the podium this time around. He is the first Korean athlete to finish on the podium at two consecutive World Championships. He became only the second Korean athlete in history to win more than one World Championships medal, joining Park Tae-hwan.
Hwang broke the Korean record in the men’s 800-meter freestyle relay with Lee Ho-joon (22-Daegu Metropolitan City), Kim Woo-min (21) and Yang Jae-hoon (25-plus) in the preliminaries (7:06.82) and finals (7:04.07-6th). He also set a new Korean record in the men’s 400-meter medley relay (3:34.25) with Lee Ju-ho (28-Seogwipo City Hall), Choi Dong-yeol (24-Gangwon Provincial Office) and Kim Young-beom (17-Gangwon Chego), although they did not advance to the final.
Hwang said, “I’m going to go home today and have a good night’s rest. I can’t take a break from swimming now. The Hangzhou Asian Games will be held in a month and a half. I will continue to swim and then return to the Jincheon Athletes’ Village next week.” The Hangzhou Asian Games kick off on September 23.
“I have a really tough schedule this year and next year. We just finished the World Championships, then we have the Asian Games in September, the National Championships in October, and the 2024 National Team Trials in November. Next year, we have the World Championships in Doha in February and the Olympic Games in Paris in July. It’s quite a journey. As an athlete, it’s your job to train according to this schedule. I want to continue to put up good times and perform well,” he said.
“I was happy to win bronze in the 200m freestyle, breaking the Korean record, but I was disappointed with my performance in the 100m freestyle (48.08 – ninth in the prelims). In the men’s 800-meter freestyle relay, I didn’t swim well because I wasn’t feeling well, but the seniors broke the Korean record. It was a grateful and satisfying memory. Korean swimming continues to improve. I’m proud that I can now compete in international competitions with this team. I used to think of swimming as a ‘stage for Western athletes’, but now Asian athletes are winning a lot of medals. I realized once again that nothing is impossible, and I hope that I and other Korean athletes can do well on the world stage.”
With the Hangzhou Asian Games just around the corner, Hwang has his sights set on the 200-meter freestyle, where he says, “I’m ranked No. 1 in Asia, so I’ll be training hard to maintain that position at the Asian Games. In the 100 meters, the gap between Fan Zhanle (China) and my best time (47.56) is quite big. It’s going to be hard to beat that over the next month and a half. However, I hope to close the gap with Pan Zhan’er in the 100 meters and get on the podium. The 800-meter freestyle relay is another event where I hope to win a medal. I hope the other Korean athletes will do their best in their respective events and get the medals and records they want at the Hangzhou Asian Games.”
South Korea saw hope in the event. Lee Ho-joon reached the men’s 200-meter freestyle final with Hwang Sun-woo and finished sixth (1:46.04). Kim Woo-min broke his personal record in the men’s 400-meter freestyle in both the preliminaries (3:44.50) and finals (3:43.92) to move into the top five in the world. Kim also won the men’s 800-meter freestyle in 7:47.69, beating the previous Korean record of 7:49.93 set by Park Tae-hwan at the London Olympics in August 2012 by 2.24 seconds. Choi Dong-yeol also set a new South Korean record in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 59.59.
“I want to win at least three gold medals at the Asian Games,” Kim Woo-min said at his return press conference. He was aiming for four. No Korean swimmer has ever won four gold medals in a single event at the Asian Games. Kim said, “I worked really hard to prepare for the Fukuoka World Championships, and I’m happy that I set personal bests in all the events I competed in. I will continue to do well at the Asian Games and next year’s Paris Olympics. I watched the world-class swimmers in detail and found out what I was lacking. I will make up for it before the Asian Games.”
In Hangzhou, Korean swimming management will attempt to win the most medals ever at an Asian Games. The current record is four gold, three silver and six bronze medals from Guangzhou 2010. 스포츠토토