Pel­le­grini wins 200m freestyle world ti­tle

Peaty seals breast­stroke dou­ble with 50m gold

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Katie Ledecky surged to the wall. Some­one else was al­ready there. For the first time ever at the world cham­pi­onships, Ledecky knows what it’s like to lose. Bid­ding to be­come only the sec­ond fe­male swim­mer to win six golds at a sin­gle worlds, Ledecky set­tled for sil­ver in the 200me­ter freestyle yes­ter­day evening when Italy’s Fed­er­ica Pel­le­grini surged to a stun­ning vic­tory on the fi­nal lap.

Bri­tain’s Adam Peaty nar­rowly missed break­ing his own world record again as he won the men’s 50m breast­stroke gold at the world cham­pi­onships on Wed­nes­day to com­plete an­other sprint dou­ble. Peaty, al­ready a win­ner over 100m, clocked 25.99 sec­onds, just 0.04sec short of his record-set­ting time in Tues­day’s semi-fi­nals, with Brazil’s Joao Gomes Ju­nior tak­ing sil­ver, 0.53sec be­hind. Bri­tain in­creased their swim­ming gold medal tally in Bu­dapest to three with Peaty re­tain­ing the two ti­tles he won in Kazan in 2015 to add to Ben Proud’s vic­tory in the men’s 50m but­ter­fly on Mon­day. South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh, the 2009 and 2013 world cham­pion in the 50m breast­stroke, earned bronze at 0.61sec and promptly paid trib­ute to Peaty’s pow­er­ful per­for­mances. “I think I have to re­tire and give it a few years and come back when he’s older,” joked the 29-yearold Van der Burgh.

Pel­le­grini, the world-record holder, avenged a close de­feat at the hands of Ledecky two years ago in Kazan, Rus­sia. This time, it was the Ital­ian touch­ing first in 1 minute, 54.73 sec­onds. Ledecky and Aus­tralia’s Emma McKeon tied for the sil­ver at 1:55.18. “I knew it was go­ing to be a tough field and that I’d have to have a re­ally good race and I just didn’t re­ally have it to­day,” Ledecky said. “I can’t com­plain re­ally with the sil­ver medal.”

While Pel­le­grini cov­ered her mouth in de­light and climbed atop a lane rope to cel­e­brate, Ledecky stared blankly at the score­board. She had never seen a “2” be­side her name at the world cham­pi­onships.

But there it was in Bu­dapest, where Ledecky’s un­beaten streak in the sec­ond­biggest swim­ming com­pe­ti­tion af­ter the Olympics fi­nally came to an end. “I didn’t re­ally feel at the end that I had that ex­tra gear that I nor­mally have,” said the 20-year-old from the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., sub­urbs. “I didn’t re­ally see much for the last 50, so I was just try­ing to put to­gether a good race.” Ledecky had been 12 of 12 over the last three cham­pi­onships, in­clud­ing three golds in this stately Euro­pean cap­i­tal. But her most au­da­cious sched­ule yet - six freestyle events cov­er­ing dis­tances rang­ing from 100 me­ters (on a re­lay) to 1,500 (the gru­el­ing met­ric mile) fi­nally caught up with her along the banks of the Danube. Missy Franklin will re­main the only fe­male swim­mer to win a half-dozen events at worlds, while Ledecky can still take com­fort in be­ing the win­ningest fe­male swim­mer over­all. Twelve golds leave her trail­ing only fel­low Amer­i­cans Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte for the most vic­to­ries. And now she’s got one sil­ver, too. “It hap­pens,” said Ledecky, who will be a heavy gold medal fa­vorite in her last two events, the 800 free and 4x200 free re­lay. “It hap­pens to ev­ery ath­lete at some point. I know this race will re­ally mo­ti­vate me mov­ing for­ward and the rest of the week as well.” Of course, los­ing to Pel­le­grini was hardly an em­bar­rass­ment. The 28-year-old be­came the first swim­mer in the his­tory of the cham­pi­onship to cap­ture seven medals in a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual event. Pel­le­grini’s in­cred­i­ble run in the 200 free be­gan at the 2005 worlds in Mon­treal, where she grabbed a sil­ver. She was third in 2007 at Mel­bourne, then won the event at back-to-back worlds, in­clud­ing a world-record per­for­mance in 2009 (1:52.98) that still stands from the rub­ber-suit era.

Pel­le­grini was run­ner-up at the last two worlds, fin­ish­ing be­hind Franklin in 2013 at Barcelona and Ledecky two years ago. Now, the Ital­ian is back on top. “I hon­estly thought the one to win the race would be Katie,” Pel­le­grini said. “And,” she quickly added, “it wasn’t.”

McKeon got off to a blis­ter­ing start, mak­ing the first turn more than a half-sec­ond be­low the world-record pace, while Ledecky nor­mally a slow starter be­cause of her dis­tance back­ground - was lag­ging in fifth. Ledecky ral­lied to sec­ond by the mid­way point, and was just one-hun­dredth of a sec­ond be­hind the Aussie when they made the fi­nal flip. But the two lead­ers, hav­ing spent so much en­ergy du­el­ing with each other, didn’t have any­thing left for the fi­nal lap.

Pel­le­grini sure did. Her clos­ing 50 was a blis­ter­ing 28.82 - nearly a full sec­ond faster than both Ledecky and McKeon. “Ev­ery­thing seemed to be in slow mo­tion to me in the water,” Pel­le­grini said. “At 150 me­ters on the turn we were all there, so I closed my eyes. But I didn’t think I was ahead in the last strokes. I was see­ing the splashes ... . ” She paused for a mo­ment, as if try­ing to con­vince her­self that it re­ally hap­pened. “It’s in­cred­i­ble,” Pel­le­grini said. “I didn’t be­lieve I would make it. I still can’t be­lieve it.” — Agen­cies

BU­DAPEST: (L to R) Aus­tralia’s Emma McKeon (sil­ver), Italy’s Fed­er­ica Pel­le­grini (gold) and USA’s Katie Ledecky (sil­ver) pose dur­ing the podium cer­e­mony for the women’s 200m freestyle fi­nal dur­ing the swim­ming com­pe­ti­tion at the 2017 FINA World Cham­pi­onships in Bu­dapest, yes­ter­day.—AFP

Adam Peaty

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.