Making a point ... Mack Horton at the medal ceremony.
Making a point ... Mack Horton at the medal ceremony.

Horton refuses to share podium with drug cheat

MACK Horton refused to stand next to his arch nemesis Sun Yang on the podium at the world swimming championships after finishing second to the controversial Chinese freestyler.

The Australian - who called Sun a cheat when he beat him at the 2016 Rio Olympics - made a silent but more telling protest this time when he stood his ground after receiving his silver medal at the presentation.

Horton and Sun did not shake hands after the race and when asked how he felt, the Australian didn't hold back: "Frustration. I think you know in what respect.

"I think you know what the rivalry is like.

"His actions and I guess how it's been handled speak louder than anything I'll ever say."

China's Sun Yang reacts after beating Mack Horton in the men's 400m freestyle final. Picture: AP
China's Sun Yang reacts after beating Mack Horton in the men's 400m freestyle final. Picture: AP

 

China's Sun Yang, right, is congratulated by Australia's Jack McLoughlin. Picture: AP
China's Sun Yang, right, is congratulated by Australia's Jack McLoughlin. Picture: AP

Seemingly unfazed by the storm that's erupted since it was revealed he destroyed a doping sample with a hammer at an out-of-competition test last year, Sun left his rivals dead in the water to win the 400m freestyle gold at the world swimming championships last night.

Horton couldn't keep up with his archrival this time, and finished a bittersweet second.

Adding further insult to injury, Sun became the first man to win the 400m world title four times in a row, eclipsing Ian Thorpe's hat-trick of wins in 1998, 2001 and 2003.

The only other man to win the same individual event at four straight world championships is Grant Hackett, who dominated the 1500m in 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2005.

 

Sun Yang carried on after the win. Picture: Getty
Sun Yang carried on after the win. Picture: Getty

 

And didn't Sun revel in letting the whole of Australia know it, straddling the lane ropes and slapping the water and punching his arms in triumph as if to say 'bring it on', triggering pandemonium among his fanatical supporters, who are either oblivious or just unconcerned by his long rap sheet.

Horton was lucky to get in the race but showed what he can do when he gets it right.

He was badly out of form at last month's trials and although he finished runner-up behind Jack McLoughlin, he didn't automatically secure a spot in the event because he hadn't bettered the tough qualifying time set by Swimming Australia.

He only got to swim the event in South Korea after he secured his place on the team by qualifying for the 4x200m relay but it proved the wake up call he needed as he went much faster.

 

Mack Horton after the final. Picture: AAP
Mack Horton after the final. Picture: AAP

His time of three minutes 43.17 seconds was less than a second behind Sun's winning effort of 3:42.44 but for Horton that was scant consolation.

"To be honest, I thought I had a bit more in me," he said.

"I think I just need to grow a pair and get going on that first 200 because my strength has always been the back end."

McLoughlin finished sixth after leading for the first 100m then running out of gas.

News Corp Australia


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