Park Tae-hwan secures third Asiad berth with ease

GIMCHEON, South Korea, July 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean swimming star Park Tae-hwan secured his third Asian Games berth with ease on Friday, winning the men's 400-meter freestyle race at the national team trials.

In Gimcheon, about 230 kilometers southeast of Seoul, Park came in first in his signature event with a time of 3:44.75, beating the runner-up, Jang Sang-jin, by nearly 10 seconds.

It fell short of his personal record of 3:41.53 or his season best time of 3:43.96, but was still good enough to give Park a chance to win his third straight Asiad gold in the 400m freestyle. Park's time Friday was the fifth-best in the world this year, ahead of his Chinese rival Sun Yang, whose best 400m time of the year is 3:45.12.

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. Earlier this week, Park qualified for the 200m freestyle and the 200m individual medley.

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.

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

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