‘Marine Boy’ leaves with lessons

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‘Marine Boy’ leaves with lessons

SHANGHAI - Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan may have won just one title at the FINA World Aquatics Championships here this week, but he is taking away much more from China than a lone gold medal.

Park ended his world championships on Wednesday, when he failed to reach the final for the 100-meter freestyle race by finishing 14th among 16 swimmers in the semifinal. He won the 400 free title on Sunday and finished fourth in the 200 free on Tuesday.

After his 100-meter semifinal Wednesday evening, the 22-year-old swimmer said the Shanghai event had been a good learning experience for him, especially with the London Olympics just about a year away.

“The championships here made me realize what I am lacking,” he said. “I will build from here on. I needed better starts and turns, and my race management left something to be desired. But all of this will form a good foundation for my future training.”

The 400-meter victory was a measure of redemption for Park. He won the 2007 world title and the 2008 Olympic gold in that event but failed to make the final at the 2009 world championships in Rome.

Though he did win the 400 free at the 2010 Asian Games last fall, Park needed a bigger prize on the global stage to complete his career turnaround. And he earned it with an impressive final swim highlighted by a torrid finish that placed him more than a full second ahead of the runner-up, Sun Yang of China.

Park’s winning time was 3 minutes 42.04 seconds, a little slower than his personal best of 3:41.53. He said his best is yet to come.

“If I just train hard each and every day, I should be able to put up a better time in the 400-meter free [in London] than this week,” he said. “It seems like the Beijing Olympics were held just a couple of days ago, but three years have passed. I think the remaining year [until the London Games] will zip past pretty quickly.”

Park said the close call in the 200 was his most disappointing moment. He was fourth at 1:44.92 and was only 0.04 seconds behind the third-place Paul Biedermann of Germany. Ryan Lochte of the U.S., the 200-meter winner, was only 0.48 second faster than the Korean.

In the 200-meter final, Park was the fastest into the pool, but taller and stronger swimmers were able to charge past him once they were underwater. By the midway point, Park had fallen to sixth among eight. Park had the fastest time over the final 50-meter split but that still wasn’t enough to put him on the podium.

In the 400-meter, Park can rely on his spurts to catch up after falling behind in early splits. He doesn’t have that luxury in the 200-meter or 100-meter.

“I did my best and I have no regrets,” Park said. “It was not a bad race, but my poor start and turns created such a big gap that I couldn’t make up ground.”

Park said he will forgo the 100-meter in London to concentrate on the 200-meter and 400-meter.

Having won two world titles, an Olympic gold and six Asian Games gold medals, Park is focused on doing something he’s never done: setting a world record.

“I’d definitely like to do it before my career is over,” he said.

The 400-meter freestyle world record is 3:40.07, compared to Park’s personal best of 3:41.53.


한글 관련 기사 [일간스포츠]

경쟁자 록티의 몸·쑨양의 승부욕, 박태환이 배워야 할 점

박태환(22·단국대)은 2012 런던올림픽을 위해 더욱 진화해야 한다. 박태환은 경쟁자들의 장점을 칭찬하며 훈련을 통해 이를 흡수하겠다는 의지를 보였다.

박태환은 자신이 닮고 싶은 선수로 라이언 록티(미국)를 가장 먼저 꼽았다. 록티에 대한 칭찬은 끝이 없었다. 박태환은 26일 자유형 200m 결승을 마친 뒤 록티에 대해 "내가 가장 닮고 싶은 선수 중 하나다. 수영을 잘 하는데다 얼굴도 잘 생겨서 인기가 많다"며 부러움을 나타냈다.

이어 "대회 때마다 만나면 항상 반갑게 인사해준다. 정이 많이 가는 선수다. 내가 영어만 된다면 록티와 많은 이야기를 나누고 싶다"고 말했다. 록티는 자유형 200m에서 마이클 펠프스를 꺾고 금메달을 차지했다.

특히 록티의 몸이 부러웠던 모양이다. 박태환은 록티에 대해 "파울 비더만이 우람한 고래, 펠프스가 날렵한 갈치라면 록티는 이 둘을 합쳐놓은 것 같다"며 "특히 몸이 좋다. 쇳덩어리 같다기보다 티타늄처럼 강하면서도 유연하다. 나도 그렇게 되기 위해 열심히 훈련하겠다"고 말했다.

박태환은 이번 대회를 앞두고 6개월간 코어 프로그램을 통해 척추 근육을 강화시켰다. 잔근육을 발달시켜 단거리에 필요한 스피드를 향상시키기 위해서다. 그러나 아직까지 정상급 선수들에 비해 부족하다고 느끼는 듯하다. 특히 탄탄한 복근과 어깨 근육이 돋보이는 록티를 보고 근력 강화에 좀더 매진해야겠다는 생각을 가졌다. 런던올림픽에서도 박태환은 단거리인 자유형 200m와 400m에 전념할 예정. 단거리에 적합한 몸 만들기에 공을 들일 것으로 보인다.

자유형 400m 경쟁자로 떠오른 쑨양(중국)은 승부욕이 대단하다. 쑨양은 자유형 400m 경기를 앞두고 "박태환이 출전하는 400m에서 반드시 우승하고 싶다"는 의지를 나타냈다. 박태환은 "걔는 왜 자꾸 내 얘기를 한데요"라며 은근히 쑨양을 견제했다. 그러면서도 "런던올림픽 자유형 400m에서는 쑨양이 가장 강력한 경쟁자가 될 것 같다"고도 말했다. 어느새 턱밑까지 쫓아온 쑨양을 여기까지 이끈 원동력이 바로 박태환을 넘어서려는 강한 승부욕이다.

박태환도 승부욕이라면 뒤지지 않는다. "나는 막가파 스타일이다. 국제대회에 나가면 눈에 뵈는 것 없이 막 달린다"고 말했다. 박태환은 이언 소프·그랜트 해켓(호주) 마이클 펠프스 같은 세계적인 선수들을 롤모델로 삼고 그들을 따라잡기 위해 노력해왔다.

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