Closed chapter

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 14 May 2021

Olympic swimming champion Mack Horton insists he has moved on from his feud with China's Sun Yang and has more things to worry about than potentially locking horns with his rival again in Tokyo.

Horton famously refused to stand on the podium alongside Sun at the 2019 world championships, reigniting a row from the 2016 Rio Olympics where he labelled the Chinese star a "drug cheat" after beating him to the 400-meter freestyle gold medal.

Three-time Olympic champion Sun was subsequently slapped with an eight-year ban after refusing to give samples during a surprise doping test.

But the ban was overturned last year by a Swiss court with another hearing due this month.

Sun could potentially compete at the Tokyo Olympics if he wins the case.

"I don't really think about it to be honest," Australia's Horton said when asked if the Sun row still troubled him, adding that "it only bothers me when I keep getting asked about it."

"I mean, I haven't qualified [for the Olympics] yet and there is so much focus on just trying to make the team. There's no mental capacity for all that other peripheral stuff," the 25-year-old added.

Asked if possibly facing Sun again in Japan would be an issue, he replied: "Every other time I've been internationally racing I've raced him, so it'll be no different."

Sun, the 1,500m world-record holder, who won the 200m and 400m at the 2019 world championships, did not take part in this month's Chinese championships and Olympic qualifiers in Qingdao.

But China Swimming Association eligibility requirements for the Olympics state that all gold medallists at the 2019 world championships can participate, opening the door for Sun.

There is no guarantee that Horton will be in Tokyo to race the 400m or 200m. He was a distant 35th in the 200m at the Australian championships last month and pulled out of the 400m with rising stars Elijah Winnington and Thomas Neill as well as distance ace Jack McLoughlin snapping at his heels.

Horton will also skip the Sydney Open this week to focus on his training regime in the lead up to the Olympic trials in Adelaide in June.

"It's not really reflective of what I can do in training. It doesn't really faze me," he said of his race form so far.

"Obviously there's a lot of depth [in the 200m and 400m] but at the end of the day I'm just trying to swim as fast as I can."

Search Archive

Advanced Search
June 2021

Today's Standard