Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan returned home from his Australian training camp on Tuesday to compete for a spot on the national team.
Park spent the past three months training in Sydney. He's back home for the national trials that start Friday in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul.
The trials, Park's first competition of the season, will determine who will represent the country at the Aug. 18-Sept. 2 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
Park is scheduled to enter freestyle races in the 100 meters,
200 meters, 400 meters and 1,500 meters. He will then spend a few more days at home before returning to Sydney on May 13.
Park's next competition will come in early June at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Santa Clara, California.
|Park Tae-hwan (Yonhap)|
Park, 28, said he feels 100 percent healthy, but since he only began training in earnest two months ago, he's still working himself into peak form. Park added that the national team trials will represent "an important step" toward the Asian Games.
"Since I got a late start, I should work that much harder for the Asian Games," he told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "I am not getting any younger, and I've been trying hard to improve my conditioning and stamina. I'd like to prove that I am still a competitive swimmer this year."
Park remains the only South Korean to have won an Olympic swimming medal. He grabbed gold in the 400m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he also picked up silver in the 200m free.
At London 2012, Park won silver medals in both the 200m and 400m freestyle.
At the Asian Games, Park has won six gold, three silver and five bronze medals. At the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, Park won one silver and five bronze medals but was later stripped of all of them after failing a doping test.
Park grabbed those medals while racing at an arena bearing his own name. During that competition, Park admitted to letting the weight of expectations affect his performance. Nearly four years later, Park said he's eager for a shot at personal redemption.
"This will be my fourth Asian Games, and since I will be competing overseas, I think I will feel more at ease," he said.
"I'd love to post good times. And if I can do that, I believe medals will follow." (Yonhap)