Total eclipse dims burnt-out Sun Hat-trick eludes tired Chinese star, while Ledecky pipped by Pellegrini
BUDAPEST — Chinese superstar Sun Yang and American sensation Katie Ledecky went down to surprise defeats at the World Aquatics Championships on Wednesday, while the United States twice broke the world record in the mixed medley relay.
Italy’s Gabriele Detti was the surprise winner of the men’s 800m freestyle — the event Sun had dominated at the last three worlds — as the 25-year-old Chinese flopped to a fifth-place finish.
Sun, a winner in the 200m and 400m freestyle here, was never in contention as he finished 8.10sec off Detti’s winning time of 7min, 40.77sec. The Hangzhou native claimed this week’s exertions in the pool had taken their toll.
“I was too tired towards the end, my arms and legs were very tired,” said Sun.
“I spent 70 percent of my energy on the 200 and 400 and I didn’t have enough left. When I go back home I will reflect on whether to keep doing the 800.”
Ledecky made history on Tuesday as the first woman to claim 12 world titles, but the 20-year-old was pipped to gold in the women’s 200m freestyle by Italy’s Federica Pellegrini.
Ledecky, a gold medalist in the 400m, 1500m and 4x100m freestyle in Hungary, was forced into a share of second place, but vowed that losing will motivate her for years.
“I knew it was going to be a tough field, but I can’t complain about the silver,” said Ledecky. “That will light some fire under me for the next cou-
I spent 70 percent of my energy on the 200 and 400 and I didn’t have enough left. I will reflect on whether to keep doing the 800.” Sun Yang, after finishing fifth in 800m freestyle
ple of years.”
Pellegrini became the first swimmer to win seven medals in a single event at the worlds after her victory in the 200m freestyle final on Wednesday.
She last won a world title in 2011 in Shanghai, but the determined Italian rolled back the years to clock 1:54.73.
The oldest in the field at 28, Pellegrini stormed back from fourth at the final turn to take gold ahead of Ledecky and Australia’s Olympic bronze medalist Emma McKeon, who had led until the 150m mark.
In the process Pellegrini, who broke 10 world records before she was 21 and won 200m freestyle gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, scuppered Ledecky’s hopes of becoming only the second swimmer, after Michael Phelps, to win at least two world titles in four different individual events.
Victory for Pellegrini sparked a good night in the pool for Italy, with Gregorio Paltrinieri earning bronze alongside compatriot Detti’s triumph in the 800 freestyle.
Britain’s Adam Peaty continued his domination of the men’s breaststroke sprint events, backing up his victory in the 100m final by retaining his 50m title — a non-Olympic event.
The 22-year-old narrowly missed breaking his own world record again as he won 50m gold, touching in 25.99, just 0.04sec shy of his world- beating mark in Tuesday’s semifinals.
“I know I can do faster than that, maybe in a few years I can come back and actually do it, but for now I’m more than over the moon,” said Peaty.
South Africa’s Chad le Clos avenged his loss in the 200m butterfly final at the 2015 worlds in Kazan, beating Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh on his home patch.
Le Clos, the 2012 Olympic champion, clocked 1:53.33 with Hungary’s Cseh, 0.39sec behind.
“It was an emotional race, before, during and after,” said Le Clos, who had braced him- self for a raucous atmosphere in front of the home fans at the Duna Arena.
The noise was near deafening as the crowd roared on Cseh and Tamas Kenderesi, who finished fourth.
“I knew it was going to be difficult with everyone cheering for the two Hungarians,” said Le Clos.
“I’m very humbled to have come out on top and reclaim the gold medal that I lost last year,” he added, referring to his fourth-place finish in the 2016 Olympic final.
The US quartet ended the night by smashing the world record in the mixed 4x100m medley relay for the second time in the space of a few hours.
Matt Grevers, Lilly King, Caeleb Dressel and Simone Manuel clocked 3:38.56 in the final, shaving more than three seconds off Britain’s record set in 2015.
Earlier in the heats, the US, featuring a different quartet, also broke the previous record with a time of 3:40.28.
This is only the second world championships featuring the mixed medley relay, which will be included at the 2020 Olympics.
Federica Pellegrini of Italy celebrates with a splash after winning the women's 200m freestyle final at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday.