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Park Passes On 400m World-Title Defence

Mar 21, 2013  - Craig Lord

Park Tae Hwan (KOR) will not defend his 400m freestyle world title at Barcelona this summer according to his Australian coach: the Korean ace is bypassing the big meet of the year to concentrate on his university studies - while Rio 2016 is in doubt.

Park has had just one training stint in Australia this year, back in January and February. He intends to return to coach Michael Bohl in July and August after completing his degree course in physical education and psychology in Korea.

Bohl told reporter Todd Balym: "He is studying over in Korea ... he will spend the next three years studying. I think next year he will do it part-time but this year he is doing it full-time. He is still undecided if he will go through to the next Olympics.

"But his original plan was to stop swimming after London but after what happened over there with the debacle with him, I think he thought about it for a couple of months and decided that it was a horrible way for him to finish and he wants to have another crack at it."

At the Games in London, Park had almost the worst approach possible to the defence of his 2008 crown: he was disqualified for allegedly moving on his blocks in the heats, spent the day dealing with an appeal process, won his case, was reinstated and took to his blocks for the final. He clocked 3:42.06 for silver, an amazing effort under the circumstances of an emotional roller-coaster but shy of the fastest swim ever in a textile suit, 3:40.14 by Sun Yang (CHN).

Sun had his own wobbly moment at the Games: he fell off his blocks at the start of the 1500m final but judges decided a noise in the crowd had caused the swimmer's premature departure and waived the one-start rule.