Australian freestyle ace Mack Horton made waves both in and out of the pool at the 2019 FINA World Championships. In addition to wrangling up the silver medal in the men’s 400m free, Horton refused to climb on the podium to stand next to gold medalist Sun Yang of China.
His abstaining from podium celebrations and standing behind the platform on the floor during the Chinese national anthem there in Gwangju was Horton’s way of protesting Sun even being present at the competition. At the time, Sun was facing a CAS hearing regarding the World Anti-Doping Agency’s appeal case against FINA’s decision not to sanction the world record holder over his blood vial-smashing incident in September.
Since then, Sun was banned for 8 years only to see a reversal of that punishment by the Swiss Court. As it stands right now, Sun will be able to compete at the postponed 2020 Olympic Games set to begin in July of this year, although the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is meeting next month.
Horton has made it known he has plans to make some noise once again should both he and Sun be present in Tokyo just over a hundred days from now. Speaking with The Sunday Telegraph, Horton stated this week, “Yeah, I would do something again.”
Reflecting on his Gwangju spectacle, Horton said, “I did it because I didn’t want to regret not doing it or not saying something.”
And he’s been dealing with the aftermath ever since, reportedly being victim to online abuse, as well as what he believes to be lost sponsorship deals due to his speaking out against a Chinese athlete.
“It was obviously pretty brutal for a bit and it goes on,” Horton told The Sunday Telegraph. “But you adapt. Everyone’s got used to it and we’ve obviously got a fair bit of support as well.”
We’ll see if both Horton and Sun wind up in Tokyo.