Katie Ledecky’s presence, family grow in Olympic Trials return

Katie Ledecky
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In 2012, a 15-year-old Katie Ledecky came to the Olympic Trials, along with about 30 family members, believing she had “kind of an outside chance” at making the London team.

“If I don’t make the team,” she thought to herself, “my family is still getting a family reunion out of this. It’s kind of that same approach this time, too.”

Nobody is kidding themselves that Ledecky might not make this Olympic team.

Not after she made the 2012 squad as the youngest member of the entire U.S. delegation, won 800m freestyle gold in London and went on to become the world’s most dominant swimmer in this Olympic cycle.

Ledecky’s “same approach” from 2012 is that she will again get a family reunion. This time with 50 to 55 members. They will notice just how big Ledecky’s star has become as they walk into Omaha’s CenturyLink Center, below a giant facade of Ledecky celebrating one of her victories.

“That’s a little different than four years ago,” Ledecky said in a pre-meet press conference Friday (also an added measure from four years ago). “I took a selfie with it.”

Ledecky’s approach this time is much different in breadth.

She is entered in the 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles with a legitimate chance to become the second U.S. swimmer to make an Olympic team in four freestyles (Shirley Babashoff, 1976), should she want to swim the 100m free in Rio. The 50m free has never been part of her program, so she will probably scratch out of that event.

She is also entered in the 400m individual medley on the meet’s first day Sunday, but she is not expected to be giving serious thought to want to swim it in Rio.

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Ledecky, undefeated in 15 career major international meet finals, can rattle off her results from the 2012 Olympic Trials, where the top two per individual event made the Olympic team.

She opened with a third-place finish in the 400m free, then ninth in the 200m free and finally won the 800m freestyle by chopping 6.07 seconds off her personal best from six weeks earlier.

“She blossomed like a flower at Trials,” USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said Friday.

Ledecky would not divulge her hopes for next week in Omaha, only saying that she “should be able to swim fast.”

“The goals I’ve had for this year have been the goals that I’ve been thinking about for the past two, three years,” Ledecky said. “It’s time to start working.”

MORE: Lochte: Ledecky beats me in practice

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei
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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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