FINA World Championships

Horton revives war of words with 'cheat' Sun

2017-07-21 23:26
Sun Yang (Getty Images)

Budapest - Australia's Olympic champion Mack Horton sparked a renewed war of words with Chinese superstar Sun Yang ahead of Sunday's clash in the 400m freestyle at the world aquatics championships.

Horton dethroned Sun over 400m at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, having called his rival a "drug cheat" in the build-up, a remark the Chinese branded a "cheap trick" designed to upset him.

The dig was a reference to Sun's three-month doping ban in 2014 for taking a banned stimulant which the Chinese 400m and 800m world champion said was for a heart complaint.

The pair are on a collision course to meet again in Sunday's 400m freestyle final at the world championships in Budapest - dubbed the "War in the Water II".

Horton took another swipe at his rival on Friday.

When asked if he was looking forward to resuming his rivalry against Sun, Horton did not pull his punches.

"I don't know if it's a rivalry - I think it's a rivalry between elite athletes and athletes who have tested positive, but there should be some good races," Horton said drily.

"We'll have to see how the week works out, but hopefully I'll be on the podium - looking down on him."

Sun dominated the 400m freestyle event from 2012 until his defeat by Horton in Rio.

The Chinese giant has swum the fastest over the distance this year and further animosity is expected with both also set to swim in the 200m, 800m and 1 500m freestyle.

Horton pointedly ignored Sun in the training pool in Rio and told reporters: "I don't have time for drug cheats," comments for which he was later trolled for on social media, but he insists he has no regrets.

"I would say the same thing again, even if I knew the outcome. I don't think it changes a thing," he said on Friday in a press conference in Budapest.

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