Getty Images

Katie Ledecky tops U.S. rankings in race she plans to skip this summer

Leave a comment

Katie Ledecky is the fastest U.S. woman in the 400m individual medley this year. Katie Ledecky does not plan to race the 400m individual medley at the world championships in July.

In yet another incredible feat, Ledecky finished second in the 400m IM at a meet in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday, took a 24-minute break and then won the 200m freestyle.

In the 400m IM, Ledecky clocked 4:38.16, getting edged by Canadian Mary-Sophie Harvey by .11 of a second.

Ledecky ranks No. 7 in the world in the 400m IM this year and first among Americans by a whopping 2.21 seconds. Last year, Ledecky ranked No. 5 in the U.S. in the 400m IM but never raced it fully tapered or at the Olympic Trials.

It is very early in the season. Swimmers are training not to peak in Mesa but at the U.S. Championships in two months, but Ledecky has certainly proven her prowess extends beyond the freestyle events.

Ledecky has never swum an event other than a freestyle at a U.S. Championships. She said in interviews Thursday and Friday that the 400m IM is not on her radar for this summer.

“I’m not really planning to [race it internationally], at least at this point,” Ledecky said on NBCSN. “That was mainly just to get some really tough racing in.”

Ledecky chose to race the 400m IM on Friday because she wanted to challenge herself with two finals in one session. She needed a race to complement her 200m freestyle.

Ledecky is planning to race a 1500m free and a 200m free in the same session at worlds in July, but the 1500m free wasn’t on the program in Mesa. So she went with the 400m IM, a similarly grueling event.

“It’s a pain like no other,” Ledecky said Friday.

Ledecky had the second-fastest butterfly split in the 400m IM and the fastest backstroke split. Her breaststroke was weak, seventh-fastest in the eight-woman field.

But she closed with a 100m freestyle split that was the fastest of the A finals in Mesa — including the women’s and men’s races.

Ledecky is set to race the 200m individual medley and the 800m freestyle to close the Mesa meet on Saturday. NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air finals coverage at 8 p.m. ET.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Olympic champion races at swim meet, 26 weeks pregnant

Paralympian Blake Leeper advances in 400m at USATF Outdoors (video)

Leave a comment

Paralympic medalist Blake Leeper, believed to be the first double amputee to race at a USATF Outdoor Championships, advanced out of the 400m heats in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Leeper ran 45.52, third in his heat, to grab the 16th and last spot in the 400m semifinals Friday (10:34 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

It marked a personal best by .58 of a second for Leeper, who was racing one day after his ban for testing positive for cocaine in 2015 ended.

“I wanted to advance, but if I don’t I have won already,” Leeper said before he learned he made the semis, according to USA Track and Field. “Just being here and showing everybody what you can truly do with a disability.”

Leeper ran faster than Olympians David VerburgKyle ClemonsArman Hall and Manteo Mitchell, who were all eliminated.

It’s likely that the top five or six in Saturday’s final will make the 4x400m team for the world championships in London in August.

USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships (video)

Leave a comment

U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced five months pregnant in 100-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships (Summer Champions Series) in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

“People were like, oh, you’re going to run faster than you did last time because you’re less pregnant,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I was like, I’m still pregnant.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

In a Wonder Woman top, Montaño gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño said. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative of people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. Not everybody has the same platform that I do. I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Montaño said she was inspired when she learned Gal Gadot, who played the title role in the movie “Wonder Woman,” filmed half of it while five months pregnant.

“I saw Wonder Woman, and I was like, I for sure am signing up for USA Nationals,” Montaño said. “I already was thinking I was going to do it.”

Montaño said it wasn’t easier or harder racing Thursday versus three years ago, when she had a bigger baby bump.

“The weird part about five months is you’re still growing and like shifting a lot,” she said. “So every week you have to readjust.”

Linnea has seen enough photos of her mom’s famous race in 2014 to know what was going on.

“I go, mom is going to run with your sibling in her belly,” Montaño recalled. “I did that with you, too. And [Linnea] was like, ‘Yeah, it was sticking out!'”

Montaño raced outdoors for the first time since falling in the Olympic Trials 800m final on July 4. Montaño had won the previous Olympic Trials (and finished fourth in London) and the 2015 U.S. title coming back from pregnancy.

She ran without an apparel sponsor Thursday, frustrated that Asics waited until December to say they were not interested in retaining her for 2017. Montaño said that left her no time to try and find a different sponsor, even though she was already planning to have her second child.

“You need to let an athlete know in September, October,” she said. “I’ve been calling [Asics] since September to be like, hey, I didn’t make the Olympic team, I’m 30, I’m going to have another baby.”

In the men’s 800m Thursday, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

MORE: Montaño finds little joy after Russian stripped of medals

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!