Park Tae-hwan, the first Korean world swimming champion, was in upbeat mood and declared himself ready to attack Ian Thorpe's world 400m record as he arrived in Beijing to take on the likes of Grant Hackett (AUS) and Larsen Jensen (USA), the 1,500m men ahead of him on the 8-lap world rankings this year.
On arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport, Park told reporters: 'I feel great. I've been training with the world record in mind in the 400m freestyle,' Park said. The mark held by reigning, retired champion Thorpe is a pool ahead, at 3:40.08. All eyes will be on 18-year-old Park as he begins his first Olympic campaign in the heats on August 9. He will also race the 200m and 1,500m free, it was confirmed.
'If I can get good results in the 400, I think the momentum will carry me through the other two races,' said Par. His coach, Noh Min-sang, said that his charge was ready for the challenge ahead and there was little more now that could be done to change anything. 'There are still a few days left until the 400-meter heats, so I won't run Tae-hwan through any heavy training,' Noh said. 'It's more important now for him to get used to the pool and to the climate in Beijing.'
Leading up to the Olympics, Park swam an average of 14km a day, said Noh. Since bringing that workload down, the swimmer had put on about an extra kilogram to 75.9 kilograms and we're pretty close to our goal, which is the world record.' 3:43 high to 3:40 flat - close? We'll soon see.