Hwang Sun-Woo of  Korea, gold medal, center, is flanked by silver medal Danas Rapsys of Lithuania and bronze medal Luke Hobson of the United States as they celebrate on the podium of the men's 200-meter freestyle final?at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 13. AP-Yonhap

Having captured his first career world title, Korean swimmer Hwang Sun-woo believes he has given himself a solid building block for success at the Olympics this summer. Hwang won the men’s 200-meter freestyle gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha on Tuesday (local time). He finished the race at the Aspire Dome in 1:44.75, with Danas Rapsys of Lithuania taking the silver in 1:45.05. Luke Hobson of the United States finished third in 1:45.26.This was Hwang’s third career medal at the worlds, following a silver in 2022 and a bronze in 2023 — all of them in the 200-meter freestyle. “I only had a silver and a bronze from the world championships, and I really wanted to win a gold medal. My dream came true today,” Hwang said in a video interview released by his agency, All That Sports. “This was a really gratifying race.”

Hwang led the race at the halfway turn, but Hobson moved ahead of the Korea at the 150 meters with a burst of speed. The American posted 26.66 seconds in his third split time, compared to Hwang’s 27.29 seconds. The tables were turned over the final 50 meters stretch, as Hwang kicked into another gear with a final split of 26.89 seconds and clinched the gold. Hobson came home in 27.81 seconds to take bronze. “I was on a pretty good pace through 100m and maintained that at the 150 meters mark,” Hwang said. “I knew Luke Hobson picked up speed but I felt that if I tried to stay with him right then, it would ruin my race. So I concentrated on my own pace and tried to get it done over the final 50 meters. “It’s that kind of maturity and race management skills that could serve Hwang well at the Paris Summer Games in July.

Many top-level swimmers, including the past two world champions in the men’s 200-meter freestyle, David Popovici of Romania and Matthew Richards of Britain, skipped the race in Doha, so that they could focus on preparing for the Olympics. Hwang, on the other hand, used the worlds as part of his Olympic buildup. The 20-year-old said he is looking forward to building on his breakthrough gold medal. “We have only about five months to go until the Paris Olympics and I think I’ve put down a good stepping stone for the Olympics,” he said. “I was able to get into the 1:44 range and this should give me strong foundation for the Olympics. With good preparation over the next five months, I should be able to put on a good performance in Paris.” Paris will be Hwang’s second Olympic Games. In Tokyo three years ago, Hwang reached the finals in both the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle races but missed the podium. This summer, Hwang will try to become just the second Korean swimmer, after Park Tae-hwan, to win an Olympic 토토사이트 medal. 

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