Australian teen Sam Short won the men’s 400m freestyle at swimming’s world championships in Fukuoka on Sunday, pipping Tunisia’s Olympic champion Ahmed Hafnaoui to the title.
The 19-year-old was on pace to break the world record at the 300m mark but came home in 3 minutes, 40.68 seconds, missing the mark by 0.61 sec.
“With 100 to go, I was just going for the win because Ahmed is the Olympic champion so this was going to go down to the wire,” Short said.
“I just put my head down at the end, and I don’t know how I beat his long arms to the wall, but I did it.”
Hafnaoui finished second at 3:40.70, while Germany’s Lukas Martens was third at 3:42.20.
Defending champion Elijah Winnington of Australia finished seventh.
Short is better known as a 1,500m freestyle swimmer, winning gold at that distance at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“I don’t think I’d be as good at the 400 if I didn’t train for the 1,500 -- it’s nowhere near as hard as the 1,500, no matter hard you go, I reckon,” he said.
“I’ve got to thank Elijah for pushing me because we race each other all the time.”
Short announced his intentions by clocking a personal-best time of 3:42.44 in the morning heats, qualifying as the top seed.
He had already offered a glimpse of his potential when finishing second behind Winnington at the Commonwealth Games.
He then edged Winnington in the Australian trials last month to qualify for Fukuoka.
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