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Outdoor jinx strikes again as Park flops

WORLD and Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan is still looking to end his bad run in outdoor pools after failing to reach the 400-meter freestyle final at the world championships in Rome yesterday.

"It's a kind of a jinx but I really want to break it some day," he said. "I'm going to do my best in the 200 and 1,500 meters. I don't think I got enough rest after Beijing."

The South Korean trailed in 12th overall after a lackluster time of three minutes, 46.04.

Germany's Paul Biedermann posted the top time of 3:43.01. China's Zhang Lin was next with 3:43.58, followed by Ous Mellouli of Tunisia at 3:43.78. American Peter Vanderkaay got through as the fifth qualifier (3:45.40).

Park was disqualified for a false start in the 400 at the open-air pool at the 2004 Athens Olympics and has had other problems.

Meet records fell in seven of eight events yesterday, the only exception being the men's 400 free. Ian Thorpe's eight-year-old mark still looks rather daunting, as does his slightly faster world record set in 2002.

Olympic 400 freestyle champion Rebecca Adlington only just avoided the same fate as Park when the Briton finished eighth in the heats to just sneak into the final.

World record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy had no such trouble in the heat, bagging a new championship record of 4:01.96.

Another blisteringly hot day greeted the athletes on the first day of swimming competition.

Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom also set a new championship record of 56.76 seconds in the women's 100 butterfly heats where champion Libby Trickett of Australia was not competing.

The championships have been dogged by a row over new high-tech suits which look set to be banned from 2010 after a raft of world records.

In the men's 50 butterfly heats, world record holder Rafael Munoz and Roland Schoeman both broke the championship record with swims of 22.90 seconds while Australian favorite Brenton Rickard matched their achievement in the 100 breaststroke heats.

"It's a fast time but it doesn't really matter that much. It's about trying to get yourself on that podium come tomorrow night," Rickard said after swimming 58.98.

Australia qualified third for the later final in the women's 4x100 freestyle relay behind championship-record breaker Germany despite news that team member Meagen Nay's brother had been killed in a car crash.

Brazil romped home first in the men's relay in another record for a world meet with the United States, without a rested Michael Phelps, qualifying fourth for the final.


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