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“It was a very meaningful and rewarding time.”
Hwang Seon-woo (20, Gangwon Provincial Office), a leading figure in Korean swimming, looked back on the year 2023 and said this. The hectic season came to an end with the 50m freestyle competition at the national swimming team selection competition on the 28th.
Hwang Seon-woo, whom we met at the Gimcheon Indoor Swimming Pool on this day, said, “Looking back on this season, it seems that valuable results have continued from the World Championships, Asian Games, and National Sports Festival.” He added, “After successfully completing the national team selection, which was the last competition, I am really happy. “I’m proud,” he said.
Hwang Seon-woo's 2023 literally passed without a moment to breathe. After warming up with training in Australia in February and the Gwangju Swimming Championships in June, he won a bronze medal in the 200m freestyle at the World Championships in Fukuoka in August. He was the first Korean athlete to win two consecutive awards (silver medal last year). At the Hangzhou Asian Games in September, he won gold medals in the 200m freestyle and 800m relay. He returned with 6 medals hanging around his neck, including 2 silver and 2 bronze medals.
After returning home, he immediately participated in the National Sports Festival in October and won 5 swimming gold medals. Despite suffering from food poisoning right before the competition, he became the first player in history to receive the Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) three times in a row. About a month after that, he again participated in the national team selection competition and took first place in the 200m freestyle. He will be able to challenge for a third consecutive medal at the Doha World Championships to be held in February next year.
Nevertheless, Hwang Seon-woo said, “I still feel regret about the record.” He said, “I went up to 47.79 seconds in the 100m freestyle this year, but fell short of my personal best of 47.56 seconds two years ago. “I need to work harder to reduce the remaining 0.23 seconds,” he said. “But thanks to shortening my time even a little bit in my main event, the 200m, I was able to gain strength and finish the season well.”
preliminaries. Reporter Bae Young-eun
For Hwang Sun-woo, this year was like a prelude to 2024. Now that we have confirmed our place at the top of Asia this year, our real goal is to be at the top of the world next year. After gaining a foothold at the World Championships to be held in three months, I plan to put all my effort into the Paris Olympics in July next year. Although the 2023 season has just ended, he mentioned ‘effort’ and ‘training’ more than ‘rest’.
Hwang Sun-woo said, “I won a silver and a bronze medal at the World Championships, but I was unable to win a gold medal. “This time, I want to fill the empty spot of the gold medal,” he said. He also recalled the Tokyo Olympics, where he participated for the first time two years ago, and said, “At that time, I was young and inexperienced, so I raced without knowing anything. Now I have gained a lot of experience. In Paris, I want to use that experience and know-how to bring out everything I can. “I want to race as much as I want,” he emphasized.
His immediate task is to break the Asian records in the 200m freestyle and 800m relay. Sunwoo Hwang won the Asian Games 200m freestyle final with a time of 1 minute 44.40 seconds, approaching the record (1 minute 44.39 seconds) set by Sun Yang (China) in 2017 by 0.01 seconds. By shaving just 0.02 seconds off his own best, he becomes the new Asian record holder. He already holds the Asian record for the 800m relay (7:01.73), but is aiming to become the first to break into the 6th minute. Kim Woo-min (22) and Lee Ho-jun (22), who team up with Hwang Sun-woo in the relay, are also gradually decreasing their records, so it is worth a try. Hwang Seon-woo said, “I realized again how strong our country’s 200m athletes have become in this selection competition. “If I set a 6 minute record in the 800m relay, I can achieve my dream of winning my first team medal at the World Championships and Olympics,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
Korean swimming showed a changed status and potential at the last Asian Games. Signboard star Hwang Seon-woo's responsibility has also grown accordingly. He said, “I was happy to let the fans know how many good Korean swimming athletes there are,” and pledged, “I will show a better performance at the World Championships and Olympics so that swimming can become a popular sport in the future.”
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