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World Ch. Schedule : WED 09:05 KST

* Date : 2014-09-17

Arirang TV's 2014 Incheon Asian Games Special Documentary
Korea's swimming champion Park Tae-hwan's challenge

Meet Park Tae-hwan in the midst of training in Australia while beating the cold.
Park Tae-hwan left for Australia right after the qualifiers at Gimcheon Indoor Swimming Pool to train with the Australian national swimming team under the leadership of team coach Michael Bohl.
Training is arduous, lasting from sunrise to sunset, but Park doesn't complain of fatigue. However, the cold is another story.
It is winter in August in Australia, and the water temperature early in the morning is below minus degrees, making it almost painful to enter the water.
Park confides that the hardest part of the training is the cold. However, with the Asian Games drawing nearer, Park's training intensifies. He has taken part in many international matches, and he is not about to stop now.

His mother's cooking is the source of his energy?
Park's mother has been in Australia for a few months.
She came to Australia to cook for Park and his team, who were facing difficulties with meals. Until his mother came, Park never had a proper meal. He had to settle for bread or eat at nearby restaurants.
However, since his mother arrived in Australia, Park has been looking forward to meal times.
There's a full table of wholesome dishes every day. The meals prepared just like those in Korea, added with his mother's touch, empower Park and the training staff.

Everyone eats well, so I don't prepare anything special.
I just use what's available.
There's a different type of soup every breakfast throughout the week, and there's always a fish dish. For lunch, there's one main dish, and for dinner, something light. I usually prepare Korean noodles or rice cake soup. It's pretty much the same.
(From Park Tae-hwan's mother's interview)

However, preparing every meal for strong, well-built young men is not easy. Park's mother claims that with all the household chores, time flies. She believes that the staff also plays an important role for Park, so she prepares the staff members' favorite dishes as well. It isn't easy buying good ingredients for Korean cuisine, but Park's mother goes all over Brisbane looking for ingredients and changes the menu every day.

Burdened by expectations for the gold medal
The name Park Tae-hwan has always been tagged with "gold medal." Unknown to others, Park felt substantially burdened by this.

There were no opportunities for me to enjoy swimming, because even if I had fun while training, if there was a match coming up, I felt pressurized to get good results.
Only a gold medal would do. That was the hard part.
(From Park Tae-hwan's interview)

If Park wins a gold medal, he becomes a national hero, but if he fails, he becomes the subject of scrutiny and criticism. When he was eliminated at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, the world criticized him instead of comforting him.
Park reveals the dismay and disappointment he felt then. The spotlight he was under left him alone in the dark and often hoping that he was doing something else that wouldn't draw attention.

At that time, however, I didn't even like the word "swimming."
I wondered why I was swimming in the first place.
I wanted to do what I enjoyed and liked, something that wouldn't attract attention from others.
(From Park Tae-hwan's interview)

Determined to go beyond the Incheon Asian Games and aim for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics!
At the age of 25, Park is considered old in the swimming world. Some claim that the Incheon Asian Games may be Park's last event. However, he is planning to go all the way to the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics two years from now. Determined to try his hardest until he concludes his swimming career, Park wishes to simply enjoy swimming regardless of the results.

I know that there's not much time left for me to meet the expectations of others.
I will do my best until the end, and after the Asian Games, I just want to enjoy swimming.
(From Park Tae-hwan's interview)

Park Tae-hwan is in an intense battle of wills. He is up against himself, and that is how he grows as a person.
Many call Park Tae-hwan a swimming genius, but he is merely a hardworking dreamer. His efforts and challenges will always be lauded.

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