Katie Ledecky beats Missy Franklin in World Championships 200m freestyle

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Katie Ledecky won her third gold medal of the World Championships, taking the 200m freestyle over a field that included defending World champion Missy Franklin in Kazan, Russia, on Wednesday.

Ledecky clocked 1:55:16. Italian world-record holder Federica Pellegrini earned silver at 1:55.32, followed by Franklin for bronze in 1:55.49.

“It was a star-studded field, just glad that it all went well,” Ledecky told Michele Tafoya on Universal Sports. “I just felt a lot more recovered than yesterday [when Ledecky swam the 200m freestyle semifinals after winning the 1500m free final in world-record time 30 minutes earlier]. I was able to go out with the field.”

Ledecky, 18, has entered seven career Worlds events and won gold in all of them. If she wins the 800m freestyle on Saturday, Ledecky will become the third swimmer to win four individual titles at a single World Championships. The others were Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

“This one was the least expected,” Ledecky said of the 200m free on Eurosport, with her coach, Bruce Gemmell, adding that he was surprised that she won. “I knew this would be the toughest race.”

Ledecky did not swim the 200m free at Worlds in 2013, when Franklin won in 1:54:81.

“Katie’s just an inspiration to everyone,” Franklin, who has fifth- and third-place finishes this week in two individual events that she won two years ago, told Tafoya on Universal Sports. “What she does is incredible, and it’s never been done before.”

Ledecky’s rise to become the world’s best 200m freestyle swimmer the last two years makes one wonder if she will dip down further to the 100m freestyle for 2016.

In January, Ledecky chopped .41 off her 100m freestyle personal best at a meet in Austin, Texas, two months after her coach, Bruce Gemmell, did not rule out adding the 100m free in interviews.

Ledecky’s personal best in the 100m free (54.55) ranks her 42nd in the world this year and ninth among Americans. It’s likely the top six at the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials will make the Olympic team for the 4x100m free relay. The Rio Olympic 4x100m relay is on the first day of competition at the Olympics, a day where Ledecky has no other events.

In 1972, Australian Shane Gould won medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at the Munich Olympics.

Worlds broadcast schedule | Wednesday results

The U.S. has won eight medals in four days in Kazan with four days left. Its lowest medal total at an Olympics or Worlds in the last 50 years was 21 at the 1994 World Championships.

In other events Wednesday, China’s Sun Yang won his third straight 800m freestyle World title, his second gold medal in Kazan and his third medal overall. Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri was second, .85 behind, followed by Mack Horton of Australia getting the bronze. American Connor Jaeger was fourth.

Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh won his second World Championship, 10 years after his first. Cseh, for so long chasing Phelps in various events, clocked 1:53.48 in the 200m butterfly to beat reigning Olympic and World champion Chad le Clos of South Africa by .20. Poland’s Jan Switkowski earned bronze.

Le Clos had been the 200m fly king starting with his Olympic upset of Phelps in London. Phelps said earlier this year that he’s open to competing seriously in the 200m fly again, after swearing it off last year, citing slow times worldwide in the event.

“I wish that he was here,” Le Clos said of Phelps, according to The Associated Press. “He’s been talking a lot of smack in the media about how slow the butterfly is, so I just can’t wait until I race him again. I’m going to really go for his world record next year.”

Great Britain’s Adam Peaty followed his 100m breaststroke title with a 50m breast gold medal in 26.51, which was .15 ahead of South African Cameron van der Burgh. Van der Burgh also took silver in the 100m breast. American Kevin Cordes took bronze in the 50m breast by .01. The 50m breast is not contested at the Olympics.

In semifinals, Lochte was the top qualifier into Thursday’s 200m individual medley final. Lochte finished fourth in the 200m freestyle Tuesday in his only other individual event in Kazan. He’s the three-time defending World champion in the 200m IM.

Olympic champion Nathan Adrian qualified fifth into Thursday’s 100m free final. That final will not include two-time reigning World champion James Magnussen of Australia (injured) or Russian world leader Vladimir Morozov (false start in the semifinals).

Americans Katie McLaughlin and Cammile Adams qualified fifth and sixth into Thursday’s 200m butterfly final.

Three-time reigning champion pulls out of Worlds

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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