Olympics-Swimming-I'll catch Dressel, warns Hungarian Milak
By Aaron Sheldrick
TOKYO (Reuters) - Hungarian Kristof Milak has warned American Caeleb Dressel that he will overtake him over 100m butterfly and dominate the event on both distances.
Milak, the 200m winner in Tokyo, took the Olympic silver medal just 0.23 seconds behind Dressel when the American broke his own world record.
"A lot of people have told me that I can't catch up with Dressel, it's impossible, they said, but now I see an opportunity in this race," Milak told reporters.
"Now I can set myself a realistic goal of winning either the World Cup or the next Olympics," he said.
Dressel set seven of the ten fastest times in the history of the event at the start of the race, but was pushed to the end by the 21-year-old Hungarian.
"That was the maximum I could give. I'm glad that Caeleb needed a world record to beat me," said Milak.
Dressel did not disagree with his rival's assessment and there is clearly a healthy respect between the two.
“It was extremely close. Kristof swam a wonderful race and it took a world record to win the Olympic final. And I think that doesn't happen that often in the Olympics. Having two of the fastest times in history is incredible. "he said.
"Doing that with them right next to me on lane 5 is really something special. I think it was really fun to watch and I have a lot of respect for Kristof," he said.
The Hungarian said he used the extra year after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic to put on weight and build his muscles, giving him a better chance to take on the imposing dressel.
"I remember being blown away by his wave at the World Championships in Budapest (2017)," said Milak.
"I'm stronger and heavier than four years ago so I was able to keep up with him," said the 21-year-old. "Last year was an advantage for me because I've become more athletic and stronger."
Milak's attempt to set a new world record in his 200-fly win was hampered by a loss of concentration after tearing his pants before the race and making a hasty change in the cabin.
Although he looked less than delighted with his gold medal, he was surprisingly optimistic after finishing second, clearly encouraged by his progress in the hunt for Dressel.
The American, who has won gold three times in Tokyo, takes the threat seriously.
"He's going to fire me one day, so I'll hold out as long as possible," said Dressel.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; additional reporting by Simon Evans and Martin Petty, editing by Ed Osmond)
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