Hwang Sun-woo takes gold in FINA swimming championships
Hwang Sun-woo won gold in the men's 200-meter freestyle at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on Friday — his first gold medal in the event.
Hwang started out in third place and stayed there for much of the race, letting Russian swimmer Aleksandr Shchegolev set the pace. But with just 50 meters left, Hwang started his comeback and ended up clinching gold with a time of 1:41.60, out-swimming Shchegolev who finished second with a time of 1:41:63 and Danas Rapsys of Lithuania who finished third with a time of 1:41:73.
Hwang's time on Friday was just short of breaking Korean swimming star Park Tae-hwan's Asian record of 1:41:03 that was set at the 2016 World Championships. Park is the first Korean to have medaled at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships after winning three gold medals in the men's 200 meter, 400 meter and 1,500 meter in 2016. Five years later, Hwang became the second Korean to medal at the event.
"I knew that it was going to be an extremely difficult race," said Hwang after his victory.
"But I tried to do what I needed to do regardless. I was not aware of other swimmers during the race, and didn't think that I would win. I was happy after I touched the touchpad and saw that I had won."
This is Hwang's first gold medal from a major FINA competition, after winning his first ever international gold medal in the men's 200-meter race at the FINA Swimming World Cup in Doha, Qatar, on Oct. 23.
Hwang not only won the men's 200-meter freestyle gold medal but also set a new Korean record at the men's 100-meter medley semifinal on Saturday, swimming with a time of 52.13 and breaking his own previous record of 52.3. The previous 100-meter medley national record was set by Hwang himself, last time around in October at the FINA Swimming Doha World Cup 2021 men's 100-meter medley final.
At the Doha World Cup, Hwang won the bronze medal despite the fact that swimming lanes at the Doha World Cup were 25 meters, only half the length of official Olympic swimming lanes, and it was his first time competing in the shorter lane.
The same went for the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships, as Hwang and the other swimmers had to swim four laps of 25 meters for the 100-meter race, turning twice the number of times they would have for an Olympic race.
Hwang made a name for himself during the Tokyo Olympics when he shattered two national records and an Asian record, becoming the first Korean swimmer since Park to reach a final at the Games. Not only did Hwang reach the finals, he finished fifth in the 100-meter freestyle, the best finish by an Asian swimmer since 1952.
However, Hwang's national record at the men's 100-meter medley still failed to earn him a chance to advance to the finals as Hwang finished in ninth place, just shy of making the top eight which advance to the final stage.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]