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May 14, 2021

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I’ve moved on from Sun feud, insists rival Horton

Olympic 400-meter champion Mack Horton yesterday insisted he has moved on from his feud with China’s Sun Yang and has more things to worry about than potentially locking horns with his rival again in Tokyo.

Horton famously refused to stand on the podium alongside Sun at the 2019 world championships in Gwangju, South Korea, reigniting a row from the 2016 Rio Olympics where he labelled the Chinese star a “drug cheat” after beating him to the gold medal.

Three-time Olympic champion Sun was subsequently slapped with an eight-year ban after refusing to give samples during a surprise doping test.

But the ban was overturned last year by a Swiss court with another hearing due later this month.

Sun could potentially compete at the Tokyo Olympics if he wins the case.

“I don’t really think about it to be honest,” Australia’s Horton said, when asked if the Sun row still troubled him, adding that “it only bothers me when I keep getting asked about it.”

“I mean, I haven’t qualified yet and there is so much focus on just trying to make the (Australian) team. There’s no mental capacity for all that other peripheral stuff,” he added.

Asked if possibly facing Sun again in Japan would be an issue, he replied: “Every other time I’ve been internationally racing I’ve raced him, so it’ll be no different.”

Sun, the 1,500 world-record holder, who won the 200 and 400 at the 2019 world championships, did not take part in this month’s Chinese championships and Olympic qualifiers in Qingdao.

But China Swimming Association eligibility requirements for the Olympics state that all gold medalists at the 2019 worlds can participate, opening the door for him.

There is no guarantee that Horton will be in Tokyo to race the 400 or 200.

He was a distant 35th in the 200 at the Australian national championships last month and pulled out of the 400 with rising stars Elijah Winnington and Thomas Neill as well as proven distance ace Jack McLoughlin snapping at his heels.

The 25-year-old will also skip the Sydney Open this week to focus on his training regime in the lead-up to the crucial Australian Olympic trials in Adelaide in June.

“It’s not really reflective of what I can do in training. It doesn’t really faze me,” he said of his race form so far as he helped launch Australia’s Olympic swim suits.

“Obviously there’s a lot of depth (in the 200 and 400) but at the end of the day I’m just trying to swim as fast as I can.”


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