July 15, 2016 / 8:42 AM / 3 years ago

Park hopes to make a splash at Rio, despite lack of preparation

South Korea's Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan reacts as he answers reporters' questions during a news conference at a hotel in Seoul March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

(Reuters) - Former Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan is confident of winning a medal at next month’s Rio Games despite the lack of preparation time following his qualification drama.

Park, the first Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal when he won gold in the 400 freestyle gold in Beijing, completed an 18-month ban imposed by world governing body FINA in March after testing positive for testosterone ahead of the 2014 Asian Games.

However, under a controversial Korean Olympic Committee regulation, he was then hit with an additional three-year ban from the national team the day the FINA suspension expired, effectively ruling him out of contention for the Rio Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared the 26-year-old to compete at the Aug. 5-21 Games only last week, upholding his appeal against the KOC ban.

“I know I haven’t had much time to prepare, but I’ve been training really hard over that short period of time,” Park was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency.

“I believe my hard work will pay off and I will be able to put together good performances. The most important thing will be to compete with confidence.”

Entangled in legal battles, Park has been able to compete in only two events this year — the South Korean time-trials in April and the Australia Grand Prix earlier this month, where he finished fourth in the 200 meters freestyle final.

“I am worried about it (lack of competitive events), but I don’t want to make it an excuse for not doing well at the Olympics,” he said.

“I know I haven’t had much time to prepare, but I’ve been training really hard over that short period of time.”

Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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