Exhausted Titmus seizes Ledecky’s 200m crown
July 28 2021 10:33 PM
Australia’s Ariarne Titmus (right) reacts next to USA’s Kathleen Ledecky after winning the final of
Australia’s Ariarne Titmus (right) reacts next to USA’s Kathleen Ledecky after winning the final of the women’s 200m freestyle during the Tokyo Games yesterday. (AFP)

AFP/ Tokyo

Ariarne Titmus admitted she was exhausted, but excited, after winning gold to dethrone American great Katie Ledecky in the Olympic 200m freestyle final yesterday, having already taken her 400m crown. The Australian touched in a new Olympic record time of 1min 53.50sec, with a sluggish Ledecky relegated to fifth.
Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey took the silver (1:53.92), with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak third (1:54.70). Titmus toppled Ledecky as the 400m champion on Monday and again proved too good over the shorter distance, powering through the field to win after turning at 150m in third.
She still has the 800m freestyle and the 4x200m relay to go at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in a gruelling programme. “Bloody exhausted, that was a tough one,” said Titmus. “Honestly, it’s not the time that I thought I could do this morning but it’s the Olympics and there’s a lot of other things going on. So it’s just about winning here and I’m very happy.”
Her coach Dean Boxall, whose wild celebrations after her 400m win went viral, celebrated in more muted fashion yesterday. The Australian clocked the second-fastest 200m in history last month (1:53.09) to signal her intentions, ranking only behind Federica Pellegrini’s super-suited world record of 1:52.98 from 2009. Pellegrini finished seventh yesterday. “Obviously having a great swim in the 400 gave me confidence coming into the 200,” said Titmus, who was in tears after receiving her medal.
Ledecky shrugged off disappointment in the 200m freestyle by winning the gruelling 1500m just 75 minutes later, as the American finally claimed gold in Tokyo. “I definitely wanted to get at least one gold here so I can finally check that box,” said Ledecky.
After being pipped by Titmus to gold in the 400m free on Monday, Ledecky was always second-favourite to the Australian in the shorter 200m. But Ledecky failed even to make the podium, a fifth-place finish her worst in an Olympic final, and she admitted it was difficult to recover.
“It was hard. I thought the better my 200 was, the better my mile was going to be, just from the adrenaline that I got from that,” said Ledecky.
“Things didn’t work out super-well there but my coach Greg (Meehan) just helped me try to use it to my advantage. We were hoping I would have an award ceremony to go to and we would be stressed about getting the warm-down so we just said, ‘Hey we have a good chunk of 45 minutes to swim down and get my mind right’. I felt I was able to do that and still felt confident going into the mile.” It was an American one-two in the first women’s 1500m freestyle at an Olympics as Ledecky clocked 15mins 37.34secs, ahead of teammate Erica Sullivan (15:41.41) and Germany’s Sarah Kohler (15:42.91).
Ledecky was visibly emotional at the end as she embraced Sullivan over the rope before screaming towards her American support in the stands. She was on the brink of tears as she left the pool.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Yui Ohashi won her second gold medal in Tokyo while Britain picked up their third swimming gold with an impressive victory in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay on a thrilling day of action in the pool. World record holder Kristof Milak of Hungary powered to the men’s butterfly 200m gold, despite being forced into a last-minute change of swimming trunks.
Ohashi, who won the women’s 400m medley on Sunday, produced her own double with victory the 200m medley ahead of Americans Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass. Walsh lead at the 150m mark but Ohashi pipped her over the final, freestyle leg, of the race to delight her Japanese team mates in the spectator-free arena.
After individual golds for Adam Peaty and Tom Dean, Britain’s success in the pool continued with the quartet of Dean, Duncan Scott, James Guy and Matthew Richards coming within touching distance of a world record in the relay.
It is the first time since 1908 that Britain have won three swimming golds at one Games. The British team won in six minutes, 58.58 — just three hundredths shy of the world record set by the United States in 2009. They finished 3.23 seconds clear of the Russian team while Australia claimed the bronze. The United States finished fourth, the first time they have not medalled in this event, aside from the boycotted Moscow Olympics.
Hungarian Milak lived up to his billing as the heavy favourite in the butterfly ahead of Japan’s Tomoru Honda with Italy’s Federico Burdisso taking bronze. His time of 1:51.25 was an Olympic record, surpassing Michael Phelps’ mark from an event he once dominated. Phelps had set the previous Olympic record of 1:52.03 in Beijing. Milak’s world record of 1:50.73 came at the world championships in Gwangju in 2019.

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