Horton dreams of restoring Australia's 1,500 reign
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - For a myopic teenager who can barely see his hand in front of his face, Australia's Mack Horton has a laser-sharp focus on his bid to restore his nation's dynasty in the 1,500 meters freestyle.
Swimming's most grueling pool event holds a special fascination in Australia, which has produced an honor-roll of 1,500 champions since Andrew "Boy" Charlton at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
"I'm definitely aware of all the greats, Murray Rose, Kieren Perkins, (Grant) Hackett," 18-year-old Horton told Reuters in a telephone interview of the legacy of Australia winning eight of the 24 Olympic titles in the race since the 1908 London Games.
"I've grown up through the Hackett era, so that's probably what I know best.
"They're massive shoes to fill ... I'm just doing what I can do and do the best that I can do whilst enjoying it."
Hackett, who won gold in Sydney and Athens, has already declared Horton a huge threat at next year's Games in Rio after he clocked 14 minutes, 44.09 seconds at last week's national titles in Sydney to qualify for the world championships.
Such expectations might be premature, given Horton is yet to race against Chinese world record holder Sun Yang.
"I try not to really think about it," Horton, who will also compete in the 400 and 800 freestyle at the world titles in Kazan, said of the buzz surrounding him. Continued...