Sun Yang pulls a Katie Ledecky at Asian Games

Sun Yang
AP
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It became known as the Ledecky Slam three years ago. Sun Yang just matched it, not at the world championships, but at the Asian Games.

Sun, a 26-year-old Chinese swimmer, swept the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles at the multi-sport quadrennial event in Indonesia, capping it with his fourth gold on Friday.

It’s not much of a surprise. Sun won the 400m and 1500m at the 2012 London Olympics, then snatched the 200m free in Rio. He also owns nine world championships among the four distances.

Sun has never recorded the Slam at a world championships like Ledecky, though. Nobody has.

He swept the 400m, 800m and 1500m frees at the 2013 Worlds and took 200m silver, 400m gold and 800m gold in 2015 before controversially not showing for the 1500m free final, citing heart issues after a report of a warm-up pool altercation.

At 2017 Worlds, Sun was fifth in the 800m free and withdrew from the 1500m free before the heats, continuing a recent trend of his prowess moving toward the shorter distances.

His 1500m time Friday — 14:58.53 — was 27.51 seconds off his world record from the 2012 Olympics and puts him 15th in the world this year. Sun ranks No. 3 in the world in 2018 in the 200m, No. 1 in the 400m and No. 8 in the 800m.

That makes it unlikely that Sun could repeat the feat at the 2019 Worlds in South Korea or the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where the men’s 800m free makes its Olympic debut.

Also at the Asian Games, Japanese 18-year-old Rikako Ikee won the women’s 50m and 100m frees and 50m and 100m butterflies, in addition to a pair of relay golds. She’s setting up to be one of the 2020 Olympic host nation’s biggest stars.

Ikee proved versatile at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo two weeks ago, winning the 100m fly in a national record and taking second in the 200m free, one spot ahead of Ledecky.

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