Park Tae-hwan sets national record in individual medley, clinches Asiad berth

GIMCHEON, South Korea, July 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean swimming star Park Tae-hwan set a national record in the 200-meter individual medley on Thursday, qualifying for the upcoming Asian Games in the process.

At the South Korean national team trials held in Gimcheon, about 230 kilometers southeast of Seoul, Park won the 200m individual medley with a time of 2:00.31. He shed 0.10 second off the previous record, set by Kim Min-gyu in December 2009.

The winners of each race here will qualify for this year's Asian Games, which will be held in the South Korean city of Incheon from Sept. 19 to Oct. 14. On Wednesday, Park booked a spot in the 200m freestyle race at 1:45.25, the world leading time of the year.

The individual medley event requires a swimmer to race equal distances with four different strokes -- butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Park, who has never swam a medley event at major competitions before, will have his first Asiad crack at the medley in Incheon.

At a domestic meet in July 2010, Park entered and won the 200m individual medley with a time of 2:01.78.

A year later, he competed in the 200m individual medley at the Santa Clara Grand Prix but finished 26th in the heats at 2:08.18.

Next Monday at the national team trials, Park will race in the 400m individual medley.

Park has been a freestyle specialist. He won the 2008 Olympic gold medal and the 2012 Olympic silver medal in the 400m freestyle, in addition to world titles in the distance in 2007 and 2011. In the 200m freestyle, Park has won two Olympic silver medals and one world championship bronze medal.

He swept up gold medals in the 200m, 400m and 1,500m at the 2006 Asiad in Doha, Qatar, and then won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

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