Tae-hwan Park, 21, the Beijing Olympics champion, won a gold medal in the 400 meter freestyle at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai with a time of 3:42.04 seconds.

Park’s time was not good enough to surpass the world record of 3 minutes 40.07 seconds or his personal best of 3 minutes 41.53 seconds. However it was still a strong comeback for him after failing to win a single medal at the Worlds in Rome two years ago.

Park got his first 400-meter freestyle gold at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia, four years ago. He had also given South Korea its first Olympic swimming gold medal in Beijing.

I was glad to swim in lane one, which allowed me to fully concentrate on my own tempo and not to get distracted from the competition, Park told reporters after the victory.

Local favorite China’s Sun Yang took the silver in 3:43.24 while Paul Biedermann of Germany, the world record holder and defending champion, grabbed the bronze in 3:44.14.

It was the first final on the opening night of the eight-night pool program.

The competition was held at the Oriental Sports Center.