Park looking forward to Phelps in tune-up
Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan said Monday that he wants to face Michael Phelps before the London Olympics.
“It will pay off big (at the Olympics) if I compete with Phelps in the 100- or 200-meter freestyle in a pre-Olympic race,” Park told reporters before departing for Australia for overseas training that also includes Canada and the United States.
During training, the 22-year-old will participate in two competitions in the United States including the Santa Clara International Grand Prix in California, where last year he edged the 14-time Olympic gold medalist in the 100.
“Although it is not decided whether Phelps will take part in the event, it will be good experience to race with him (in terms of preparation for the Olympics) and even better if I defeat him.”
Along with the grand prix series, Park, the first Korean swimmer to claim gold at the Summer Games after winning the 400-meter freestyle in Beijing four years ago, will compete in an event to take place in Los Angeles, but is not in a rush to come up strong there.
“It will be good to post good times there, but I do not have great expectations,” said Park, who set new records in the 200 and 400 at a local meet last month, but was far short of his personal best.
“Having undergone intensified drills, I will swim in the races.”
But Park plans to focus on honing his skills at the start and the turns.
“I need to work most on a fast start and it will help in the 200 meters. Skills for turns are important in the 400 meters. To vie with high-profile swimmers like Ryan Lochte and Phelps, I need to improve my starts and turns,” he said.
“For now, it is important how much I grow in match fitness, and taking advantage of this training, I will try to swim competitively at the Olympics.