07/21 08:27 CDT Ledecky stunned in 400 free at worlds; Sun wins record title
Ledecky stunned in 400 free at worlds; Sun wins record title
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) --- Katie Ledecky is usually there in the end, her
endurance powering her to the wall well ahead of the competition.
Someone else got there first at the world championships on Sunday night.
Ariarne Titmus of Australia chased down Ledecky over the last lap to win the
400-meter freestyle and deny the American star a record fourth straight title.
It was Ledecky's first defeat in the event at a major international meet since
China's Sun Yang was able to do what Ledecky could not: win his record fourth
consecutive title in the men's 400 free.
As expected, it didn't come without controversy.
Titmus overcame a 0.62-second deficit going into the last lap and won by 1.21
seconds over Ledecky. The 18-year-old Aussie touched in 3 minutes, 58.76
Ledecky was second in 3:59.97 --- well off her world record of 3:56.46 set at
the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
American Leah Smith took bronze in 4:01.29.
Ledecky had the slowest last lap of anyone in the eight-woman final. Titmus
went 1.83 seconds faster over the last 50 meters.
Titmus led through the first 200 meters --- dipping under world-record pace on
the first lap --- before Ledecky moved in front with 250 meters to go.
The American was still ahead turning for home. But Titmus pulled even midway
through the last lap and surged to the wall first, becoming the first Aussie to
win since Tracey Wickham in 1978.
In the men's 400 free, Sun worked his way from fifth to first and then easily
kept rival Mack Horton of Australia at bay over the last lap to surpass Aussie
great Ian Thorpe's record of three straight wins.
"This is the greatest achievement in history for the Chinese team," Sun said
through a translator. "Personally, it's a great start for myself and for the
China team as well."
He touched first in 3:42.44. Horton took silver in 2:43.17, while Gabriele
Detti of Italy earned bronze in 3:43.23.
Sun climbed on the lane rope and waved four fingers on each hand in
celebration. He pounded the water and was the last swimmer to leave the pool.
Sun got out and thrust his arms in the air to screams and cheers from Chinese
fans, who hung banners featuring his face from the stands.
"I was so thankful for my fans," Sun said. "I am aware that I have fans and
also the haters in the venue, but I was just very satisfied to win."
Sun won his other 400 free titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
His presence at the world meet has drawn the ire of some swimmers, including
Horton and American Lilly King. The Aussie is the only swimmer to beat Sun in
the last eight years, taking gold in the 400 free at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
That's when Horton called Sun a "drug cheat" for his three-month doping
suspension in 2014.
Asked what his overriding emotion was, Horton replied: "Frustration. I think
you know in what respect."
Olympic breaststroke champion King was critical of FINA, the sport's world
governing body, for allowing Sun to compete at worlds.
"That's really sketchy and pretty insane," she said Friday.
Sun said, "I am aware of the rumors that have been going around, but I try to
just concentrate on my swimming and I will keep trying to put a lot of effort
in my swimming."
On the medals podium, Sun and Horton didn't shake hands. Sun and Detti joined
together on the top spot for photos but Horton didn't join them. Instead, he
stood in his position a bit lower and away from the gold medalist.
"I don't think I need to say anything," Horton said. "His actions and how it
has been handled speaks louder than anything I could say."
Sun said he was aware Horton has a problem with him.
"Disrespecting me was OK, but disrespecting China was unfortunate," Sun said.
"I feel sorry about that."
Sun is currently facing alleged doping rule violations that risk a ban from the
2020 Tokyo Olympics and he has requested a public trial at the Court of
Arbitration for Sport in September to defend himself.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is challenging a decision by FINA, swimming's
world governing body, merely to warn him over incidents during a doping control
team's attempts to take blood and urine samples at his home in China last
September, while allowing him to continue competing.
"I don't care about it," Detti said. "He won so today he was stronger than us.
Next year I'll try to beat him."
In the men's 4x100 freestyle relay, Nathan Adrian anchored the Americans to a
victory seven months after announcing he had been diagnosed with testicular
Their time of 3:09.06 was a championship record, lowering the mark of 3:09.21
set by the U.S. in 2009 during the high-tech suit era.
The women's 4x100 free relay went to Australia in 3:30.21, also a championship
record. The U.S. took silver and Canada earned bronze.
Adam Peaty of Britain became the first man to go under 57 seconds in the 100
He won his semifinal heat in 56.88 seconds, bettering his old world record of
57.10 set last August in Glasgow, Scotland.
Peaty is seeking his third straight world title in the event. He also won the
100 breast at the Rio Olympics.
The final is Monday night.
More AP swimming: https://apnews.com/tag/Swimming and