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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