Park Tae-hwan aims to defeat Michael Phelps in finals of men's 200m freestyle

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New Delhi, August 11 : After leaving behind American sensation Michael Phelps in a men's 200m freestyle semifinal in the Beijing 2008 Olympics today, South Korean swimming prodigy Park Tae-hwan has said that he would try his best to defeat Phelps in the final.

Park beat Phelps by 0.29 second and finished second with 1:45.99 during the heat, while Phelps's compatriot Peter Vanderkaay snatched the first place in the start list for the final to be held tomorrow morning.

The South Korean freestyler gave his country its first Olympic swimming gold medal on Sunday morning when he took on retired Australian Ian Thorpe's mantle as men's 400 meters freestyle champion. ark already beat Aussie long-distance king Grant Hackett, his childhood hero, twice in international races last year and won the world championship.

Dubbed as nation's little brother, Park is the event's world champion and a hugely popular athlete in his country.

Even South Korean President Lee Myung-bak interrupted an official meeting to watch his live TV telecast. A presidential office spokesman said that Lee called Park to congratulate the swimmer and give him encouragement in his next races. "Your Olympic victory is a giant glory to the entire nation. You elevated the morale of the entire nation. Congratulations," Lee was quoted as telling Park. "Your world-class performance demonstrated the enhanced national power of Korea," he said.

According to Park, though he was tired after the race, but after a day of rest, his strength will recover and his morale remains high.

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