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Sunday, September 21, 2014, 17:33

Sun, Park in Games face-off

Sun, Park in Games face-off
China's Sun Yang swims in his men's 200m freestyle heat at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014.(Photo / AP)
INCHEON, South Korea - China's Olympic champion swimmer Sun Yang is on course to meet his chief rival, Park Tae-hwan of South Korea in the 200-meter freestyle final Sunday night, the first of three showdowns between the pair at the Asian Games.

Japan's Kosuke Hagino is the wildcard in the race, having finished second-fastest behind Sun in the morning heats. Sun was first through in a time of 1 minute, 48.90 seconds, followed by Hagino at 1:48.99, and Park at 1:50.29.

Ye left the pool without speaking to reporters, but Park said he felt in-form and wasn't worried about the competition gathered at the aquatic complex named in his honor at Incheon, west of the capital Seoul.

``I didn't come here to meet Sun Yang. I'll try and beat my record, and finish well,'' he said.

Though Sun has vowed to dominate Park at the Asiad, the two are about as evenly matched as two swimmers can be.

Park won the 200 at the last two Asian Games, part of a total haul of six Asiad golds, and holds the Asian Games record of 1:44.80. While the pair tied for silver in the 200 at the London Olympics two years ago _ the last time the two raced _ Sun holds the Asian record of 1:44.47 and won the event at last year's World Championships, a meet that Park skipped.

The two are also due to meet in the 400-, and 1,500-meter freestyle events.

Along with the 200-, 400-, and 1,500-meter freestyle world titles he won last year, Sun's trophy case holds two golds, one silver and one bronze won at the 2012 London Olympics, where he became the first Chinese man to win an individual Olympic swimming gold.

Sun also holds the world record in the 1,500 and won the event at the Asian Games four years ago in Guangzhou, China, where Park won gold in the 100, 200 and 400 freestyle finals.

In other heats, Japan's Irie Ryosuke was fastest in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 53:87, followed by China's Xu Jiayu at 54:60 and Hagino, who won his second heat of the morning in 54:86. Xu exploded on to the scene when he broke three Chinese records at the May nationals and is ranked fastest in the world this year in the 100.

Japan's Daiya Seto was first through to the men's 200 butterfly final with a time of 1:57.18, with teammate Kenta Hirai next at 1:59.74 followed by China's Hao Yun at 1:59.76.

China's Bi Yirong set the pace in the women's 400 freestyle, winning her heat in a time of 4:12.27. Teammate Zhang Yuhan was next fastest at 4:12.82 followed by Japan's Chihiro Igarashi at 4:14.29.

Japan's Kanako Watanabe was first in qualifying in the women's 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.18, followed by Shi Jinglin of China at 1:08.34 and Satomi Suzuki of Japan with 1:08.83.

``I want to set a personal best and win as many medals as possible,'' said Watanabe, who was second in the event at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia last month, where she won gold in the 200 breaststroke.

In the 4x100 freestyle relay, China was fastest at 3:39.41, with Japan second at 3:43.05, and Hong Kong third at 3:45.70.

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