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