Ledecky sha ers record to give US first Rio gold

The Myanmar Times - - Olympics -

“PURE hap­pi­ness” ra­di­ated from Katie Ledecky as the 19-year-old US freestyle phe­nom gazed at the score­board and con­tem­plated her lat­est feat: a 400m Olympic gold in worl­drecord time.

Ledecky, tar­get­ing a rare 200m, 400m and 800m Olympic freestyle tre­ble – surged to the wall in 3min 56.46 sec­onds, smash­ing her own world record of 3:58.37 set in the Gold Coast, Queens­land in 2014.

“To see 3:56 feels re­ally good,” said Ledecky, who now owns the six fastest times ever in the event, and is one of only two women even to break four min­utes.

Italy’s Fed­er­ica Pel­le­grini did it twice, in the era of the now-banned su­per­suits.

Ledecky, who has con­tin­ued to rise since her sur­prise win in the 800m freestyle as a 15-year-old at the Lon­don 2012 Games, has now bro­ken 12 world records.

On Sun­day, she cov­ered the last 50m in a blaz­ing 28.92sec, leav­ing Jazz Car­lin of Great Bri­tain to col­lect sil­ver in 4:01.23 – 4.77 sec­onds adrift. Amer­i­can Leah Smith took bronze with 4:01.92.

“I just let it all out,” said Ledecky, who came within a whisker of the world mark in the af­ter­noon heats, clock­ing 3:58.71 – the sec­ond-fastest ever un­til her gold medal swim.

“It felt pretty iden­ti­cal to this morn­ing, with a lit­tle more pop on the back half,” she said. “It just felt great.”

Smith, who was thrilled to fin­ish less than two sec­onds be­hind Ledecky in the 400m free at the US tri­als, said she knew Ledecky was primed for some­thing big.

“I’ve been train­ing with her for the past month,” Smith said. “So I knew it was com­ing. It was only a mat­ter of how fast she was go­ing to go.”

Ledecky also com­peted in the 200m free last night, but re­sults were not avail­able at press time. She’ll try to fin­ish out the de­mand­ing tre­ble with the 800m free on Au­gust 12.

She could be­come the first woman since Deb­bie Meyer in Mex­ico City in 1968 to sweep the 200m, 400m and 800m free at the Games, and will be a con­tender with the US team in the 4x200m free.

If Ledecky wins her re­main­ing events, she’ll be­come just the third US woman to win four gold medals in a sin­gle Olympics, af­ter Amy Van Dyken in 1996 and Missy Franklin in 2012.

Ledecky also an­chored the 4x100 free team that set a US record and earned sil­ver be­hind Aus­tralia on Au­gust 6. – AT his fifth, and sup­pos­edly fi­nal Olympics, Michael Phelps fi­nally let his guard down, sob­bing along with his team­mates af­ter col­lect­ing his 19th gold medal by help­ing the United States win the men’s 4x100m freestyle re­lay in Rio.

With his in­fant son Boomer and fi­ancee Ni­cole Johnson watch­ing from the stands, Phelps, the great­est Olympian of all time, be­gan to weep af­ter two of his team­mates, Ryan Held and Caeleb Dres­sel, started to bawl.

“They were mak­ing us cry,” Phelps said. “The younger guys started cry­ing, I started cry­ing.”

Al­ready far-and-away the most dec­o­rated Olympian of all time, the 31-year-old Phelps showed that he had lost none of his speed or killer in­stincts af­ter com­ing out of a brief re­tire­ment to pro­vide Team USA with its first win in the event since Beijing, nar­rowly hold­ing off France and Aus­tralia.

“It was crazy. I was stand­ing on the block while Caeleb was com­ing in and I hon­estly thought my heart was go­ing to ex­plode out of my chest,” said Phelps, who clocked 47.12 sec­onds on the sec­ond leg to give the US swim­mers a lead they never re­lin­quished.

“Hav­ing the amount of ex­cite­ment, cheer­ing that was in the stands tonight dur­ing that race – I don’t know if I’ve heard any­thing like it,” Phelps said.

“We wanted that race back so badly,” he added. “My last 400 free re­lay ever – it feels damn good to get a win.”

Nathan Adrian, the 100m in­di­vid­ual win­ner in Lon­don four years ago, swam the an­chor leg in a siz­zling 46.97, the fastest split of the race, to earn his fourth ca­reer gold medal over three Olympics.

“I love a lit­tle emo­tion, I had to fight back some tears my­self. That’s the one you grow up as a kid, a young swim­mer dream­ing about it,” Adrian said.

Win­ning the re­lay had be­come a mat­ter of na­tional pride for the Amer­i­cans af­ter they were beaten in Lon­don in 2012, and failed to make the fi­nal at last year’s world cham­pi­onships in Rus­sia.

‘I hon­estly thought my heart was go­ing to ex­plode out of my chest.’

US Olympic swim­mer

Michael Phelps

Noth­ing was left to chance, with the team even call­ing in four-time NBA cham­pion Tony Parker to talk with the swim­mers dur­ing one of their fi­nal train­ing camps.

“We ac­tu­ally had Tony Parker come in … when we were in train­ing camp, and he says it best: The sec­ond cham­pi­onship is the one that’s the hard­est and the one you ap­pre­ci­ate the most.”

Photo: AFP

USA’s Katie Ledecky (cen­tre) poses on the podium with sil­ver medal­list Jazz Car­lin of the United King­dom (right) and bronze medal­list Leah Smith of the USA af­ter the women’s 400m freestyle fi­nal on Au­gust 7.

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