Mack Horton refuses to share podium with Sun Yang after Chi... - Jean Pierre Bansard - Advertisement & Marketing Agency.
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Mack Horton refuses to share podium with Sun Yang after Chi…

Mack Horton refuses to share podium with Sun Yang after Chi…


Sun could be banned for life in September as WADA appeals a FINA doping panel ruling that absolved him of blame for smashing a vial of blood due to be taken for testing.

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His very presence in Gwangju has deeply divided rival swimmers and Horton drew a line in the sand once more by not taking the podium. Nobody on the Australian team knew in advance of the silent protest.

“Frustration is probably it. I think you know in what respect,” Horton said after the race. “I think you know what the rivalry is like. His actions – and how it’s been handled – speak louder than anything I’ll ever say,” Horton said.

Sun told a press conference that he could forgive Horton for protesting against him, but believed he went too far this time and his actions would be perceived as “disrespecting” China, where Horton is already a despised figure in the wake of Rio.

“Yes I was aware that the Australian athlete had dissatisfaction and personal feelings towards me, but it was unfortunate because disrespecting me is okay but disrespecting China was very unfortunate and I felt sorry about that,” Sun said.

Australia’s head coach Jacco Verhaeren said he was unaware of Horton’s plans, but after a wildly succesful night for the Dolphins, which included Ariarne Titmus completing a famous upset against Katie Ledecky in their 400m freestyle, he was in no mood to question one of his athletes.

Mack Horton competing in the 400m Freestyle Final at the FINA World Swimming Championships.

Mack Horton competing in the 400m Freestyle Final at the FINA World Swimming Championships.Credit:AAP

“Nobody actually knew, that was his idea to do that. Let’s put it this way, I understand him very much. He has been very strong and vocal about this in the past… you can only respect him for what he does,” Verhaeren said.

“Mack stands for what he stands for. Nobody can take that away from him, nobody should. But we move on and into the next races.”

Cate Campbell, after she anchored the Australian 4x100m freestyle relay team to a gold medal to complete the night, said of the action: “I support clean sport and I support swimmers standing up for their beliefs and I think that Mack did an incredible job and we’ll take it as a win for Australia.”

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Later on Instagram, Campbell wrote: ‘Taking a stand for clean sport. Mack Horton, we salute you.”

After Rio, Horton was targeted with tens of thousands of abusive messages from Chinese fans, and can expect a similar treatment this time around, even if the World Championships are a lesser competition.

By 2am local time in Korea, an unrelated Instagram image of Horton and his girlfriend had more than 6000 messages, most of them abusive.

In 2016, the Chinese swimming team savaged Horton for his “malicious personal attack” on Sun and demanded an apology: “We think his inappropriate words greatly hurt the feelings between Chinese and Australian swimmers. It is proof of a lack of good manners and upbringing,” team manager Xu Qi told China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

The blowback from China will be strong again but Horton could potentially also face sanctions from FINA, swimming’s governing body, for failing to step up to his position during the medal ceremony.

He also refused to be in photos with Sun, only posing and shaking hands with bronze medal winner, Italy’s Gabriele Detti.

Earlier, Sun looked like he would never get out of the pool after his victory, won in 3:42.44s to Horton’s 3:43.17s. He bathed in the adulation of the loud Chinese fans in what was an unashamed rebuke to his many detractors.

Australia's Mack Horton, left, holds his silver medal with bronze medallist Italy's Gabriele Detti after refusing to stand on the podium with the gold medal winner China's Sun Yang

Australia’s Mack Horton, left, holds his silver medal with bronze medallist Italy’s Gabriele Detti after refusing to stand on the podium with the gold medal winner China’s Sun YangCredit:AP

During the week, American breastroker Lilly King had said it was “insane” that Sun was allowed to compete adding that FINA were ‘taking the piss’ by letting him walk free.

On the swimming front, it was highly pleasing for Horton, who rebounded from poor trials five weeks ago to close the gap and put him right back in the mix to defend his Olympic gold next year.

And if the sight of Sun bathing in the adulation of his delirious Chinese supporters doesn’t light a fire under him, nothing will.

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