Sun Yang

Sun Yang’s bid for history denied in 800m freestyle (video)

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In 2015, Katie Ledecky completed the “Ledecky Slam” by becoming the first swimmer — male or female — to win the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles at one worlds.

Sun Yang has come close to the same feat, but again this year was derailed despite winning the 400m and 200m frees in Budapest earlier this week.

Sun finished fifth in the 800m freestyle final, eight seconds behind Italian winner Gabriele Detti. The controversial Sun had won the 800m free at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 Worlds, but is clearly now better at the shorter distances.

Detti, 22, overtook Poland’s Wojciech Wojdak in the last 50 meters and added to Italy’s strong recent history in distance freestyles.

Gregorio Paltrinieri, the Olympic 800m free champion and 2015 World 1500m champion, took bronze. Detti was third in the Rio Olympic 400m and 1500m frees.

Paltrinieri and Detti are clearly the swimmers to beat in Sunday’s 1500m free, though Sun owns the world record and won Olympic and world titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Sun, 25, remains on nine world titles in individual events, trailing only Ryan Lochte (10) and Michael Phelps (15).

Men’s 800m Freestyle Results
Gold: Gabriele Detti (ITA) — 7:40.77

Silver: Wojciech Wojdak (POL) — 7:41.73
Bronze: Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) — 7:42.44
4. Henrik Christiansen (NOR) — 7:44.21
5. Sun Yang (CHN) — 7:48.87
6. Felix Auboeck (AUT) — 7:51.20
7. Florian Wellbrock (GER) — 7:52.27
8. Zane Grothe (USA) — 7:52.43

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Sun Yang completes freestyle gold set as American takes silver (video)

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Controversial as he is, Sun Yang is very arguably the greatest freestyle swimmer of all time.

The Chinese superstar won his ninth career world title — all individual freestyle golds — by taking the 200m free in Budapest on Tuesday. So exhausted, he emerged from the Danube Arena pool to lay on the deck for several seconds before coming to his feet.

Sun clocked 1:44.39, while American Townley Haas took silver in 1:45.04 for his first individual medal at a major international meet. Russian Aleksandr Krasnykh picked up the bronze.

Sun was next to last after 50 meters but burst to the lead by the 150-meter mark. He had the fastest final 100 meters by .66 of a second.

Sun, 25, won the 200m free at worlds for the first time, one year after his first Olympic 200m free title. Sun has now won Olympic and world gold medals at every freestyle distance from 200m to 1500m. Only one other swimmer can boast that — Katie Ledecky.

Sun trails only Michael Phelps (15) and Ryan Lochte (10) in individual world titles. Sun can tie Lochte if he wins the 800m free in Budapest on Wednesday.

But Sun is not universally admired in swimming. He served a silent three-month doping ban in 2014. The next year, Sun shockingly did not show up for the 1500m free final at worlds. Sun said in a post-meet press conference that it was due to a heart problem and declined to comment when asked about a reported warm-up altercation with a Brazilian swimmer.

Haas, 20, was a revelation in 2016. He won the Olympic Trials 200m free and had the fastest split by .71 in the Olympic 4x200m free relay but was fifth in the individual 200m final in Rio.

Men’s 200m Freestyle Results
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) — 1:44.39
Silver: Townley Haas (USA) — 1:45.04
Bronze: Aleksandr Krasnykh (RUS) — 1:45.23
4. Duncan Scott (GBR) — 1:45.27
5. James Guy (GBR) — 1:45.36
6. Dominik Kozma (HUN) — 1:45.54
7. Mikhail Dovgalyuk (RUS) — 1:46.02
8. Park Tae-Hwan (KOR) — 1:47.11

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Katie Ledecky needs help to win 2 golds to open swimming worlds

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Katie Ledecky dominated to win her first gold of the world championships. She needed help for her second one.

Ledecky, possibly en route to a record-tying six gold medals at a single worlds, won the 400m freestyle in the second-fastest time in history in Budapest on Sunday.

An hour later, Ledecky swam the third leg of the U.S.’ 4x100m free relay that took gold by .29 over rival Australia. But Ledecky had the slowest split of the U.S. quartet by .67 (and 1.04 seconds slower than her split on the Rio Olympic silver-medal-winning team).

She needed help and got it from Mallory Comerford, who broke the American 100m free record leading off, and Kelsi Worrell and Olympic 100m free co-champion Simone Manuel. The U.S. women broke the American record in the event.

Five American records fell overall Sunday, including Caeleb Dressel breaking the men’s 100m free mark leading off the 4x100m free en route to gold (video here).

One world record came down, too. Sarah Sjostrom shattered the 100m free world record by .35 leading off the Swedish 4x100m free quartet that ultimately finished fifth.

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Earlier, Ledecky clocked 3:58.34 in the 400m free to win by 3.2 seconds over countrywoman Leah Smith. China’s Li Bingjie earned the bronze. Ledecky holds the nine fastest times ever, including the world record of 3:56.46 from Rio.

“There’s no disappointment,” Ledecky said of missing her world record by 1.88 seconds. “It’s a world championship gold medal. There’s nothing to complain about there.”

Ledecky, the quadruple 2016 Olympic champion, won her third straight world title in the 400m free and is now up to 11 world titles overall. She has four more races this week and is favored for gold in all of them.

She can tie Missy Franklin‘s female record of six golds from the 2013 Worlds. Michael Phelps won seven golds at the 2007 Worlds.

In other races Sunday, China’s Sun Yang won his third straight world 400m freestyle title, whooping Australian rival and Rio gold medalist Mack Horton by 2.47 seconds (video here).

Sun, 25, bagged his eighth individual world title, trailing only Ryan Lochte (10) and Phelps (15) on the all-time list.

In semifinals, Sjostrom was the top qualifier into Monday’s 100m butterfly final. While Sjostrom is the heavy favorite, Worrell qualified third into the final as she seeks a first individual major international meet medal.

Kevin Cordes broke his month-old American record in the 100m breaststroke semifinals with a 58.64. Olympic champion Adam Peaty was the fastest qualifier into Monday’s final in 57.75, followed by Cordes and Olympic bronze medalist Cody Miller (59.08).

Dressel broke the American record in the 50m butterfly semifinals, a non-Olympic event. Dressel took .15 off the old record by clocking 22.76 as the fastest qualifier into Monday’s final.

Rio gold medalist Katinka Hosszu began her quest to a possible four individual world titles by topping the 200m individual medley semifinals. Americans Melanie Margalis and Madisyn Cox join her in Monday’s final.

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