Swimming star Park Tae-hwan speaks out
Park Tae-hwan talks in an interview the Asian Swimming Championships in Tokyo, Nov 21, 2016. [Photo/IC]
South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan clinched four gold medals at the Asian Swimming Championships in Tokyo with victories in the men's 100-m and 1,500-m freestyle events on Sunday and in the 200-m and 400-m events Thursday.
In an interview afterward he said he was pressed by former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Kim Jong to skip the Rio Olympics.
"He said if I don't go to the Rio Olympics, I would be assured of getting a sponsorship and being a professor at Dankook University. But if I do what I want, I would be in a very awkward situation,"Park said.
"At that time I was so scared because he was such a powerful man. But I also longed to participate the Olympics," Park said.
Park, the first Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal when he won gold in the 400 freestyle gold in Beijing, completed an 18-month ban imposed by world governing body FINA in March after testing positive for testosterone ahead of the 2014 Asian Games.
However, under a KOC regulation, he was then hit with an additional three-year ban from the national team the day the FINA suspension expired, effectively ruling him out of contention for the Rio Olympics.
Park took his case to CAS, sport's highest tribunal, and also filed an injunction against the KOC and Korea Swimming Federation with the Seoul Eastern District Court, which ruled he should be considered eligible for selection. CAS also ruled that Park was eligible for selection for the summer Games. However, due to various reasons, he was not able to get in the finals.