Pellegrini upstages dominant Ledecky

Italy's Federica Pellegrini celebrates after winning the women's 200m freestyle final at the world championships in Budapest.
Italy's Federica Pellegrini celebrates after winning the women's 200m freestyle final at the world championships in Budapest.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BUDAPEST • Katie Ledecky failed to clinch her fourth gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest yesterday, after she finished joint-second with Australia's Emma McKeon in the 200m freestyle.

Italy's Federica Pellegrini, the world record holder in the event (1min 52.98sec), took gold in 1:54.73.

Reigning Olympic champion Ledecky's time of 1:55.18 earned her a silver, adding to her 1,500m free, 400m free and 4x100m free relay golds. Russia's Veronika Popova (1:55.26) just missed out on a place on the podium.

The result ends Ledecky's bid to equal fellow American Missy Franklin's record of six swimming gold medals at a single world championships.

It also marked the first time she has not won in 14 individual finals at major international meets.

After winning three golds,the 20-year-old claimed she is becoming older and wiser when it comes to completing one of swimming's most punishing session schedules.

Including heats and finals, she will potentially swim a total of 6,300m in Budapest. That is 100m more than she swam at the Kazan world championships two years ago when she won five golds in the 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, plus the 4x200m relay freestyle events.

Ledecky said that her legs had turned to jelly in Russia when she qualified only sixth fastest for the 200m final. But she won gold in the distance event on Tuesday before stretching every last sinew to ease into the 200m final with the quickest time of 1:54.69.

Unfortunately for her, she was slower in yesterday's final. But she is already the most decorated woman in world swimming, surpassing Franklin's 11 global titles.

The five-time Olympic gold medallist went straight to the warm-down pool after her win in the 1,500m free and turned over around 900m before being pulled out by her coaches to prepare for the victory ceremony and the 200m free semis.

"You look over at the scoreboard, see your time, see your place, then kind of try to focus on the next race doing what I need to do to get ready for that," Ledecky said.

"But it's hard through 364 other days of the year. It's putting in the work in practice so when I get up to this day I can just do it. It's routine like this and to know that I have the work in the bank to get up and swim those times."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'Pellegrini upstages dominant Ledecky'. Print Edition | Subscribe