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US teen sets new mark in 800 en route to fourth gold medal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Barcelona

US teen swim­mer says her fourth gold and sec­ond world record are be­yond her ex­pec­ta­tion.

Teenager Katie Ledecky ad­mit­ted ex­ceed­ing her own ex­pec­ta­tions af­ter break­ing her sec­ond world record and win­ning her fourth gold in the women’s 800m freestyle at world aquat­ics cham­pi­onships on Satur­day.

Hav­ing al­ready won the 400m gold and bro­ken the 1,500m world record in Tues­day’s fi­nal, the 16-year-old US star com­pleted the set in the freestyle events with a new 800m world record of 8 min, 13.86 sec in Barcelona.

In her wake, Den­mark’s Lotte Friis, who had led for the first 650 me­ters, fin­ished at 2.46 sec back and New Zealand’s Lau­ren Boyle took bronze at 4.72 adrift.

Ledecky’s Barcelona tally in­cludes the 400, 800 and 1,500m freestyle golds, plus the 4x200m freestyle re­lay vic­tory with the US team.

“I am thrilled, I ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions for the year,” said Ledecky, as three world records fell in Barcelona on Satur­day to make it six in to­tal — all by women.

“The goal I set at the be­gin­ning of the year was three medals and one world record: now I have four golds and two world records, so I couldn’t be hap­pier.”

The 800m fi­nal mir­rored Tues­day’s 1,500m fi­nal, when both Ledecky and Friis went un­der the pre­vi­ous world record, with the Amer­i­can im­pos­ing her au­thor­ity in the clos­ing stages af­ter Friis had charged out to an early lead.

“I just car­ried my mo­men­tum from ear­lier in the week and was able to lay it all out tonight in my last race,” said Ledecky, who took 0.24 sec off Bri­ton Rebecca Ad­dling­ton’s record from the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics.

“I knew it was go­ing to be a tough race and I knew Lotte was go­ing to be right in there so I had to be pa­tient up front and then try to break away in the last 200m.

“I just had to stay pa­tient and let Lotte swim her own race. She is a tough com­peti­tor and a lot of fun to go up against.”

Friis, who won the event at the 2011 world cham­pi­onships, had noth­ing but praise for the new cham­pion.

“I think maybe she is go­ing to turn out to be one of the great­est swim­mers of all time,” said the 25-year-old of Ledecky.

“The plan was to go out a lit­tle bit strong, to get as big a gap as pos­si­ble and then see what Katie was go­ing to do.”

Hav­ing fin­ished fifth in the Olympic fi­nal, Friis said she was happy with her sec­ond sil­ver in Barcelona.

“I think I was in the best shape in my life in Lon­don, it just didn’t go as I planned,” she said on a good night for Dan­ish swim­ming af­ter Jeanette Otte­sen Gray won the 50m but­ter­fly fi­nal with Rikke Moller Ped­er­sen hav­ing set the 200m breast­stroke record on Thurs­day.

“I moved from Den­mark to Nice in France, where I am train­ing right now.

“I have re­gained the faith and self-es­teem that I lost a bit in Lon­don.”

Boyle said she was de­lighted with her Barcelona cam­paign af­ter also pick­ing up bronze in the 400m and 1,500m freestyle fi­nals.

“I im­proved my best time by four sec­onds over the past two days, I swam a per­sonal best by three sec­onds yes­ter­day and then by an­other sec­ond to­day,” said the 25- year- old Boyle, who trains year-round in the US.

“I know they are such great swim­mers,” she added.

“Lotte has been up there for a while and Katie is so young, but so amaz­ing.

“I was sur­prised that I was nearly up with Katie halfway through the race, and so that was mo­ti­vat­ing for me to try to stay up with her for as long as I could.”

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