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Sun Targets 400m As Trigger For Triple

Jun 29, 2011  - Craig Lord

News Round-Up:

China: Sun Yang, the biggest gun China is about to fire into men's swimming at a home world championships in Shanghai, has set himself a priority of taking down Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan (KOR) in the 400m freestyle as a trigger to what could turn out to be a triple triumph when action gets underway in the race pool from July 24. "I put more emphasis on the 400m title because it will be the first event I compete in," Sun tells Xinhua three weeks out from a championships at which his efforts over 30 laps are awaited like the rain: his 1500m victory at the Asian Games last year fell just 0.87 seconds shy of the world record set by Grant Hackett, Australia's Olympic (2000, 2004) and world (1998, 2001, 2003, 2005) champion - and that 2001 record was the only one to survive the shiny suits era. "I hope a good start will bring luck to my later events," said 20-year-old Sun, who has been training with Hackett's mentor Denis Cotterell in Australia. "I expect fierce competition from my rivals, especially Park Tae-Hwan." Park, 22 and coached by Michael Bohl just along the Gold Coast from Sun's base, lifted the Asian 200m and 400m titles ahead of Sun last year, two years after Olympic victory, which followed a South Korean first in all swimming events in 2007: the world title. 

Spain: World récord holder in the 50m butterfly, Rafael Muñoz will race at Scottish nationals in Glasgow from tomorrow in a last effort to earn selection for the world championships. His season best of 23.66sec fell 0.04sec shy of the target time set by Spain for action at world titles in Shanghai next month. Munoz set a world record of 22.44 in 2009 while wearing a non-textile bodysuit allowed at the time. Those suits, which helped some more than others, have been banned since January 1, 2010. Reports in Spain and Portugal have suggested that if Munoz does not make the cut, he may quit the sport. That said, some of those reports  also describe him as the most successful Spanish swimmer in World-Championship (l/c) history with two bronzes medals from 2009. In fact, that would be Martin Lopez-Zubero, Olympic champion and winner of four world championship medals, including the 1991 200m backstroke crown and the 1994 100m backstroke crown.

France: Alexandra Putra, who in the past has swum for France, will appear in Polish colours at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China, from August 14-19, after having taken the decision to switch nations following the 2008 European Championships. Both her parents are Polish. This is the first season in which Putra, who studied in the US for five years until 2010, has had a chance to make the switch official, she tells L'Equipe today.

Italy: At the Aspria Swimming Cup in Milani,  Federica Pellegrini (ITA) took the 100m freestyle in 55.28, 0.1sec ahead of Germany's Daniela Schreiber; Benjamin Starke clocked 53.08 in the 100m butterfly; Fabio Scozzoli (ITA) took the 50m breaststroke in 28.22; Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) won the 100m breaststroke in 1:09.44; and Paul Biederman (GER), out of a training camp in Tenerife clocked 1:49.06 in the 200m freestyle.

Australia: former international breaststroke specialist Simon Cowley yesterday denied in a District Court that he had been about "about to strike" fellow swimmer Nick D'Arcy before D'Arcy bashed him in the face in an assault outside a nightclub back in March 2008, according to Australian news reports. Cowley, appearing before Acting District Court Judge Anthony Puckeridge in a civil action against Mr D'Arcy for damages of up to Aus$750,000, said he could not remember saying to Mr D'Arcy words to the effect of "Pull your fxxxxxg head in!" just before he was hit. He also denied being drunk at the time. When D'Arcy's counsel Paul Hayes asked Cowley '"By minimising your role in the incident, that you had little recollection of the events, you were endeavouring to advance your prospects in the civil case, weren't you?", the swimmer replied "I guess so, yes". Cowley said he had sought psychiatric help in 2002 after failing to make the team for the Sydney Olympics. He had suffered undiagnosed depression for two years and retired from the sport in 2004 after failing to make the Athens Olympics. However, he denied that on March 30, 2008, after Olympic trials at which he fell shy of earning selection, that he had been "a little more touchy or sanguine". There was a debate about whether Cowley was sitting or standing at the time that D'Arcy punched him in the face, causing injuries that required Cowley to undergo several operations. The hearing continues.