South Korean swimming sensation Hwang Sun-woo (20, Gangwon Provincial Office) narrowly missed becoming the first South Korean to reach the 100m freestyle final at a World Aquatics Championships, but he saw hope.
Hwang touched the touchpad in 48.08 seconds in heat one of the men’s 100-meter freestyle semifinals at the 2023 International Swimming Federation World Championships at Fukuoka Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall in Fukuoka, Japan, on Saturday.
Finishing sixth in his heat and ninth overall, Hwang was unable to punch his ticket to the final, which features the top eight semifinalists.
She was disappointed to miss out on the final by a narrow margin. Hwang finished eighth overall in 48.06, just 0.02 seconds behind Jack Alexi (USA-48.06), who was the last man standing in the final.
It was the second consecutive World Championships 100m freestyle final for Hwang after last year’s event in Budapest. The first Korean to reach a World Championships 100m freestyle final will have to wait.
Hwang Sun-woo finished 17th in the 100m freestyle preliminaries at last year’s World Championships with a time of 48.61 seconds. He narrowly missed out on a ticket to the semifinals, which are reserved for the top 16 swimmers.
But when sprint czar Caleb Dressl (USA), the second-placed qualifier, suddenly withdrew for “health reasons” just two hours before the semifinals, Hwang, the second-placed swimmer, made a dramatic semifinal appearance.
Hwang came into the semifinal with a lot of preparation, but he was not at his best. His time of 48.08 was good enough for 11th place overall in the semifinals and a spot in the top eight.
Hwang is already world-class in her main event, the 200-meter freestyle.
At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Hwang qualified for the 200m freestyle semifinals with a time of 1:44.62, a new Korean record and a new world junior record, before finishing sixth in the final.
Hwang made a name for himself on the world stage last year at the World Championships in Budapest, where he broke the Korean record with a time of 1:44.47 to win a silver medal and become one of the world’s best.
In the 200-meter freestyle final on May 25, Hwang set a new Korean record of 1:44.42 and took home the bronze medal.
He also made history by becoming the first Korean swimmer to win back-to-back medals at the World Championships, a feat not accomplished by Park Tae-hwan.
In the 100-meter freestyle, however, he struggled again.
The 100-meter freestyle is a short race where explosive power, rather than race management and endurance, dominates the times, giving Western swimmers an advantage.
It is in the middle and long distances that Asian swimmers have primarily excelled at the Olympic and World Championships. They have struggled in the shorter distances.
In the 20th edition of the World Championships, only three times has an Asian swimmer reached the final of the men’s 100-meter freestyle.
In 2015, China’s Ning Zetao reached the final and won gold in 47.84 seconds. It is the only medal won by an Asian athlete in the men’s 100-meter freestyle at a World Championships.
He was followed by China’s Fan Zhanle, who reached the final for the second consecutive time in Budapest last year and Fukuoka this year.
Pan finished fourth in 47.79 seconds after reaching the final at last year’s World Championships.
In today’s semifinals, he clocked 47.61 to finish third overall. He is the first Asian athlete to reach the 100m freestyle final at two consecutive World Championships.
No Korean swimmer has ever reached the final of the 100-meter freestyle.
Park Tae-hwan, who primarily swam the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle events, competed in the 100m freestyle at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai and qualified for the semifinals after finishing 14th in his heat.
The Korean first is yet to be written as Hwang Sun-woo failed to reach the final for the second consecutive time.
Still, her eighth-place finish in the semifinals was not too far off the pace, giving her hope that she will be able to make the final at the next World Championships.
Hwang is no stranger to the 100m freestyle final on the world stage.
At the Tokyo Olympics, he finished seventh in the 100m freestyle preliminaries in a then-Korean record of 47.97 seconds, and in the semifinals he set a new Asian record of 47.56 seconds, becoming the first Asian athlete to reach an Olympic men’s 100m freestyle final in 65 years since Atsushi Dani (JPN) at Melbourne 1956. He finished fifth in the final.
Hwang will knock on the door of the men’s 100-meter freestyle final once again at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris. 파워볼게임