No Horton vs Sun in 800 free after Aussie fails to qualify
GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — There won’t be another podium protest by Mack Horton in the 800-meter freestyle at the world swimming championships.
The Australian swimmer failed to qualify for the eight-man final after finishing finished 14th in Tuesday’s preliminary heats with a time of 7 minutes, 52.65 seconds.
Horton’s rival, Sun Yang of China, grabbed the last spot for the final on Wednesday. He was timed in 7:48.12.
Horton refused to step onto the podium or shake Sun’s hand after finishing second to Sun in the 400 free on Sunday. The Aussie received a standing ovation from his fellow swimmers in the dining hall at the athletes’ village that night.
However, the fallout elsewhere has been swift.
Sun accused Horton of disrespecting China.
Hateful messages have flooded Horton’s Instagram page, with threats aimed at him, his family and girlfriend.
In his first public comments since the protest, Horton said Tuesday, “As much as I want to protect the sport, I still need to protect the team, so the focus now is the team’s performances and focusing on what everyone else is doing and making sure we get through the week.”
Horton snubbed Sun, who served a three-month doping ban in 2014, after the Chinese star was allowed to compete in Gwangju ahead of a Court for Arbitration in Sport hearing in September that threatens Sun’s career.
Sun has been accused of smashing vials of his blood with a hammer during a clash last year with testers, and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty.
FINA, swimming’s world governing body, sent warning letters to Swimming Australia and Horton after the protest.
Swimming Australia has said it had no prior knowledge of Horton’s plan and chief executive Leigh Russell supported the 23-year-old swimmer.
“Swimming Australia respects the position Mack Horton took during the medal ceremony and understands his sense of frustration,” Russell said in a statement.