By Yoo Jee-ho
LONDON, July 28 (Yonhap) -- Park Tae-hwan won the silver medal in 400-meter freestyle swimming at the London Olympics on Saturday, hours after an earlier false start disqualification ruling was overturned by officials.
At London's Aquatics Centre, Park clocked in at 3 minutes and 42.06 seconds to finish behind Sun Yang of China, who established an Olympic record with 3:40.14. Peter Vanderkaay of the U.S. won the bronze at 3:44.69.
Park failed in his attempt to win his second straight Olympic gold in 400ｍ free and also came up short in his bid to become the first South Korean to defend an Olympic gold in an individual event.
But Park almost never had a chance to swim in the final. He was initially disqualified for a false start after recording the fastest time in his heat earlier Saturday. South Korean officials appealed the ruling and the global governing body, FINA, overturned the decision after further video review.
Park Tae-hwan poses with his silver medal in the men's 400-meter freestyle swimming on July 28, 2012, at the London Olympics. (Yonhap)
Having dramatically earned his spot in the final, Park charged out with the fastest reaction time in the field at 0.67 seconds, and led the pack through the first 300 meters, on pace to break the world record of 3:40.07 held by Paiul Biedermann of Germany. But Sun, who had also been on pace to break the world record, overtook Park over the final stretch and beat his Korean rival for his first Olympic title.
Park also failed to beat his own personal best of 3:41.53. He will return to the pool Sunday for heats and semifinals in 200ｍ free.
Park became visibly emotional after his race as he discussed his hectic day at the pool.
"An Olympic silver is as difficult to win as any," he said. "I am just disappointed I couldn't win my second straight title. But I gave all I had and I'd like to congratulate Sun Yang for his win as a fellow Asian."
Park said he waited in his room almost all afternoon for the final decision on his disqualification ruling, but added he doesn't believe it affected his performance in the final.
"It was a frustrating situation becuase I wasn't sure if I'd have the race or not," he said. "I don't want to say it had any influence on the final."
Choking back tears, Park said, "I will prepare well for the 200ｍ race."