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Agency to release swimmer Park Tae-hwan after five years
SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- Swimmer Park Tae-hwan's management agency of five years said Friday it will not retain the freestyler after their current contract expires at the end of this month.

   The sports management wing of SK Telecom, the country's top mobile carrier, said it has decided to not renew its sponsorship deal with the 23-year-old star swimmer.

   SK Telecom and Park have been together since July 2007, four months after Park won his first world championship in 400-meter freestyle in Melbourne.

   Park went on to win gold in 400m free and silver in 200m free at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In October 2008, SK Telecom signed him to a four-year deal to help him prepare for the 2012 London Olympics.

   After failing to make finals in any of his three races at the 2009 world championships, Park recruited the help of Australian coach Michael Bohl in January 2010.

   SK Telecom said it spent 7 billion won (US$6.3 million) in the past four years to pay for Park's training expenses in South Korea and overseas. The management firm also formed a support team for the swimmer, made up of his personal trainer, nutritionist and interpreter.

   Bohl, who has worked with world record-setting swimmers such as Stephanie Rice, is credited with helping turn around Park's career after 2010. Under the Australian's guidance, Park won three gold medals at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, his second 400m freestyle world title in Shanghai in 2011, and two Olympic silver medals in London this summer.

   SK Telecom's athlete clientele includes PGA Tour veteran Choi Kyoung-joo and LPGA Tour star Choi Na-yeon. SK, the conglomerate, runs the Wyverns in professional baseball and the Knights in professional basketball.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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