2019 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- All sports: Friday, July 12 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
- Pool swimming: Sunday, July 21 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
- The Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center, Gwangju, Korea
- Meet site
- Competition Schedule
- FinaTV Live Stream
- Entry Lists
- Start Lists
The first podium ceremony of the 2019 FINA World Championships came with a heavy dose of drama.
Australia’s Mack Horton, the silver medalist in Sunday’s 400 free final in Gwangju, protested gold medalist Sun Yang‘s presence by abstaining from podium celebrations, standing behind the platform on the floor during the Chinese national anthem.
It’s hammer time with Mack Horton refusing to stand on the podium next to Sun Yang #FINAGwangju2019 #FINAWorlds #Gwanju2019 pic.twitter.com/fabgXk7bpX
— Tim Morrissey (@timmorrissey) July 21, 2019
Horton also kept an intentional distance between himself, Sun, and bronze medalist Gabriele Detti during post-podium photo ops in addition to his demonstration during the medal ceremony:
Picture tells everything pic.twitter.com/ZN0USInd6s
— Rowdy Gaines (@RowdyGaines) July 21, 2019
Horton, 23, has long had somewhat of a rivalry with the triple Olympic champion Sun, who is currently embroiled in a doping investigation.
Their back-and-forth goes back to the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. While competing there, Sun had splashed Horton while in the warm-up pool, with Horton telling the media, “He splashed me to say hi and I ignored him because I don’t have time for drug cheats.”
At the time, Sun responded by accusing Horton of playing mind games to destabilize him. “I don’t think I need to explain myself any further. I have done what it takes to prove I’m clean … all athletes should be shown respect. On the competition stage, every athlete deserves to be respected and there’s no need to use these sorts of cheap tricks to affect each other.
Now, Sun is facing a CAS hearing in September 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.
In pre-meet warmups, the pair were reportedly intentionally given a wide buffer during a warm-up session. Sun and Horton were slated to warm-up right next to one another in lanes 3 and 4 in the practice pool before Sun’s Aussie Coach Denis Cotterell moved the Chinese swimmer to lane 5, according to The South China Morning Post.
“I just won’t share a podium with someone who behaves in the way he does,” Horton said after the race Sunday. He asked Detti to do the same, but the Italian said something to the effect of: “I worked too hard for the bronze, I want the podium.”
Sun took first place and won his four world title in the event in 3:42.44. Horton took second in 3:43.17, and Detti third in 3:43.23.