Biedermann up against it in 400m free
Paul Biedermann's coach says the German can be a medal threat in the 400m freestyle – but first he has to reach a final expected to feature reigning Olympic champion Park Tae-Hwan and Chinese star Sun Yang.
The 400m free is among the events on the opening day of competition at the London Olympics Aquatics Centre on Saturday.
Biedermann won the 400m free European title at Debrecen, Hungary, in May, but his time of 3min 47.84sec was a long way from his world record of 3:40.07 set in the era of high-tech bodysuits in 2009.
It didn't even reach the qualifying standard for the Olympics, although Biedermann was assured a berth by his federation thanks to his bronze medal at last year's world championships in Shanghai.
Coach Frank Embacher said Biedermann would be handicapped in Saturday's preliminaries by his spot in the second of four heats, with Park and Sun in the third and fourth.
"He has to win the heat to be sure of going to the final," said Embacher, who predicted Biedermann, known to be something of a slow starter in the morning, would have to swim at least 3:47.0 to secure his berth in the evening final.
Although the pressure is on Biedermann to bounce back after failing to earn a title at Shanghai, Embacher said the 25-year-old swimmer was in a good frame of mind on the eve of his second Olympics.
"He's looking very relaxed, that's a change from his first Olympics," Embacher said. "Tomorrow he'll be really hot."
He'll have to be, in an event featuring Park and Sun.
Sun owns the fastest time in the world this year of 3:42.31, and his personal best of 3:40.29 makes him the third-fastest performer in history behind Biedermann and Ian Thorpe.