(Reuters) – South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan banished memories of a dismal run at the Rio Olympics by winning his third gold medal at the FINA short course world swimming championships in the men’s 1,500 meters freestyle on Sunday in Windsor, Ontario.
Having already triumphed in the 200 and 400 freestyle, Park swam neck-and-neck with world record holder Gregorio Paltrinieri in the early stages of the 1,500 before pulling away to take the title in a championship record time of 14 minutes 15.51 seconds, more than six seconds clear of Italian Paltrinieri.
On the women’s side, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu capped a stellar week in Windsor by clinching her seventh gold of the meet on Sunday as she won the 100 butterfly in 55.12 seconds.
Hosszu, a three-time champion at the Rio Olympics where she set a world record in the 400 individual medley, single-handedly won more events in Windsor than any other nation except the United States.
For Park, triple gold would have tasted extra sweet following his disappointing form at the Rio Games in August when he won a late battle to compete after appealing against a doping ban.
Park, the first Korean to claim an Olympic swimming medal when he won the 400 freestyle in Beijing in 2008, had completed an 18-month ban imposed by world governing body FINA in March after testing positive for testosterone ahead of the 2014 Asian Games.
Under a controversial Korean Olympic Committee regulation, he was then hit with an additional three-year ban from the national team the day the FINA suspension expired.
That would have ruled him out of contention for Rio but the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared Park to compete at the Olympics. However, the Korean struggled in Rio, mainly due to insufficient training.
Park failed to qualify from the heats for the 100, 200 and 400 and then pulled out of the 1,500 in what would have been his final event at the Games.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Andrew Both)