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

Katie Ledecky

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

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell

At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich

A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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