Sun Yang pulls off Katie Ledecky-like feat at Chinese Nationals

Sun Yang
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Katie Ledecky is the only swimmer to win world titles in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles. If that’s incredible, then what Sun Yang did at the Chinese Nationals last week is certainly notable.

The six-time Olympic medalist swept the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle national titles in Qingdao.

Sun, already the only swimmer to win Olympic titles in both the 200m and 1500m frees, has become stronger in the shorter freestyles in recent years.

He has the fastest times in the world this year in the 200m and 400m but ranks third in the 800m and 10th in the 1500m. He is No. 29 in the 100m free.

The 25-year-old could now swim the 100m free at a major international meet for the first time in July.

However, the 100m free semifinals and the 800m free final are in the same session. Sun has won the last three world titles in the 800m free and could shed the 100m to focus on the 800m.

Few men have shown that kind of range in a career. South Africa’s Ryk Neethling finished fifth in the 1500m free at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, then fourth in the 100m free at Athens 2004.

Sun, the only Chinese male swimmer with an Olympic title, is expected to try for a fourth Olympics in 2020, but that wasn’t a given last summer.

“I talked about my future with my father after Rio Olympics,” Sun said last week, according to Xinhua News Agency. “The career is so tough and I was thinking maybe I could only hang on for one or two more years. It’s hard for an athlete to keep fighting for a long time and only the strong-minded ones could stand the trial.”

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2022 Ironman Kona World Championships results

Ironman Kona World Championships
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2022 Ironman Kona World Championship top-10 results and notables (full, searchable pro and age group results are here) …

Pro Women
1. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) — 8:33:46
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) — 8:41:37
3. Anne Haug (GER) — 8:42:22
4. Laura Philipp (GER) — 8:50:31
5. Lisa Norden (SWE) — 8:54:43
6. Fenella Langridge (GBR) — 8:56:26
7. Sarah Crowley (AUS) — 9:01:58
8. Daniela Ryf (SUI) — 9:02:26
9. Skye Moench (USA) — 9:04:31
10. Laura Siddall (GBR) — 9:07:49
16. Heather Jackson (USA) — 9:22:17
DNF. Sarah True (USA)

Pro Men
Race is on Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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Chelsea Sodaro wins Ironman Kona World Championship, ends American drought

Chelsea Sodaro
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Chelsea Sodaro was the surprise winner of the Ironman Kona World Championships women’s race, ending the longest American victory drought in the event’s 44-year history.

Sodaro, a 33-year-old mom to an 18-month-old, prevailed in an unofficial 8 hours, 33 minutes, 46 seconds on Hawaii’s Big Island.

“My mind is a little bit blown right now,” she said in a finish area interview 25 minutes later, standing next to her daughter, Skylar. “This is the culmination of things being right in my life and having perspective. … This is freakin’ incredible, but the greatest gift at the end of the finish line is my little 18-month-old.”

Sodaro was in fifth place after the 2.6-mile swim and 112-mile bike, then recorded one of the fastest 26.2-mile marathon runs in event history (2:51:45) to win by 7 minutes, 50 seconds over Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay.

Swiss Daniela Ryf, who was eyeing her sixth Ironman world title, led after the bike but faded quickly on the run.

MORE: Ironman Kona Race Results

Sodaro, whose lone previous full Ironman was a second-place finish at June’s European Championships (reportedly in the second-fastest Ironman distance debut in history), became the first American to win in Kona since Tim DeBoom in 2002 and the first American to win the women’s race since Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser in 1996.

She is the first woman or man to win in their Kona debut since Brit Chrissie Wellington took the first of her four titles in 2007.

Sodaro (née Reilly) was an All-America runner at Cal, then placed 19th in the 10,000m at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

She turned to triathlon in 2017, made podiums on the World Cup circuit (just below the top-level World Series for Olympic hopefuls) and moved up to long-distance racing in 2018.

At the half Ironman distance, she was fourth at the 2019 World Championships, her last major championship start before the pandemic, pregnancy, childbirth and a move up to the full Ironman this year.

“I’m pretty stoked that I think I maybe get to take the rest of the year off and be a mom for a month or so,” Sodaro said.

The pro men’s race is Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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