Sun Yang
AP

Sun Yang pulls a Katie Ledecky at Asian Games

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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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MORE: Katie Ledecky closes Pan Pacs with 21-second win

David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

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David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

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MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule

Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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