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'Bothers me': Mack Horton speaks out amid fresh Sun Yang furore

·2-min read
Mack Horton doesn't want his Olympic career to be defined by his feud with Chinese rival Sun Yang. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Mack Horton doesn't want his Olympic career to be defined by his feud with Chinese rival Sun Yang. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Australia's Mack Horton says he has more things to worry about than whether his Chinese rival Sun Yang gets to swim at the Olympics.

Horton famously refused to stand on the podium next to the drug-tainted Sun at the world championships two years ago.

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That followed the Australian branding him a "drug cheat" at the 2016 Rio Olympics, when Horton took gold in front of Sun in the 400m freestyle.

Now, Sun's proverbial shadow follows Horton everywhere - except in the Australian's mind.

"It bothers me when I keep getting asked about it," Horton told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

"I don't really think about it to be honest.

"We haven't qualified. There is so much focus on just trying to make the team, there is no mental capacity for all that peripheral stuff."

Sun's fate will soon be decided: he will again appear before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) later this month.

CAS last year suspended Sun for eight years for refusing to give samples during a surprise doping test, where a vial of his blood was smashed with a hammer.

But Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court overturned the ban in December, ruling CAS was biased because a CAS judge, Italian Franco Frattini, had made anti-Chinese posts on social media.

Frattini has been barred from ruling on Sun's re-trial scheduled for May 24-28, just two months before the Tokyo Olympics.

Mack Horton preferring to focus on Olympic trials

But Horton was more concerned at securing his own spot on Australia's Olympic team following sluggish swims at last month's nationals.

Horton ranked a lowly 35th in 200m freestyle, placed seventh in the 800m freestyle and then withdrew from his pet event over 400 metres.

"It's really reflective probably of what I can do in training," Horton said.

"It doesn't really phase me."

Mack Horton says he is focused on the upcoming Olympic trials for the Tojyo Games. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Mack Horton says he is focused on the upcoming Olympic trials for the Tojyo Games. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Horton was bullish about rediscovering peak form at the Olympic trials in Adelaide next month.

"At the end of the day, I'm just trying to swim as fast as I can and trials is a high-pressure environment," he said.

"Everyone wants to get through that and then it's just a refocus for the Olympics.

"With trials being closer to the Olympics as well, the pressure builds because there is already so much focus already on the Olympics, particularly with the media."

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

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