Ledecky struggled as Ariane Titmus dominated the 200m and 400m freestyle events but she was back to her best in one of her favourite events to clinch her first gold medal of the Tokyo Games
Katie Ledecky added to her swimming legacy with victory in the inaugural 1500m freestyle final to collect her sixth Olympic gold medal and her first of the Tokyo Games.
The American 24-year-old has been the dominant force in women’s freestyle since grabbing the world’s attention with 800m gold at London 2012 aged only 15. A string of world titles followed at 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m, as did four more Olympic gold medals in Rio, and she added No6 with trademark dominance.
Ledecky lost her 400m crown earlier this week to Australian 20-year-old Ariane Titmus, and an hour before this race she failed to medal in a 200m final also won by Titmus. But the 1500m freestyle is her best event and its new Olympic status for this Games offered the perfect opportunity to make amends.
Ledecky went out fast and established a two-length lead, and it grew as the final went on. She appeared in total control with her metronomic stroke in full working order despite her earlier exertions, finishing in 15min 37.34sec – the 12th fastest time in history. The other 11 are all hers, of course.
Ledecky’s US teammate Erica Sullivan paced her swim brilliantly to pick off the rest of the field in the final 600m and earn silver for a US one-two. Germany’s Sarah Kohler won bronze.
More to follow…