Katie Ledecky grabs relay silver in return from illness at swim worlds

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Katie Ledecky grabbed relay silver in her return to the world swimming championships after suffering through dehydration and vomiting for the previous week.

“That went a lot better than I expected,” Ledecky said. “I’d say 95 percent sure that I’ll swim tomorrow [in the 800m freestyle].”

Ledecky, in her first race since Monday, gave the U.S. the lead in the second leg of the 4x200m free, but Australia surged ahead on anchor to win in a world record 7:41.50. It’s the first time the U.S. lost the event at an Olympics or worlds since China set the previous world record in 2009.

The U.S. also swam under the old record, clocking 7:41.87. Ledecky had the third-fastest split of the 32 swimmers in the final. She was joined by Simone ManuelMelanie Margalis and Katie McLaughlin.

In other events Thursday, Caeleb Dressel earned his third gold at worlds with the second-fastest 100m freestyle in history. More on Dressel and the other individual finals here.

Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion, withdrew from her previous two events on Tuesday (200m and 1500m freestyles), with USA Swimming and her coach, Greg Meehan, then citing an unspecified illness that had affected her since arriving in South Korea on July 17 from a training camp in Singapore.

“We don’t know exactly what caused this all, but feeling the effects of dehydration, loss of appetite, lightheadedness, a lot of different things,” Ledecky said after Thursday’s race. “It kind of created a perfect storm that pulled me out. I wouldn’t have pulled out if it was [not] serious or if I was concerned, scared and worried about my health.”

Ledecky returned to light swimming on Wednesday, checking her heart rate after every 50 meters.

On Tuesday, Meehan said Ledecky’s slow last 50 meters of Sunday’s opening 400m free final, where she was passed by 18-year-old Australian Ariarne Titmus and relegated to silver, was “a little bit of a sign” of a problem.

Ledecky said Thursday that she almost stopped with 400 meters left of her 1500m freestyle heat on Monday, her last swim before temporarily withdrawing from the meet. She still posted the fastest overall time by 2.69 seconds in an event where she is the world-record holder by 18.4 seconds.

“Got over to the coaches and the medical staff, told them I’m not myself,” she said. “Spent the next two days sleeping and getting as much rest and hydration as I could.”

Michael Phelps texted to check on her during one of Ledecky’s sleepless nights.

“That meant a lot,” Ledecky said.

Ledecky is now expected to race one more event in Gwangju, the 800m free, with heats on Friday and the final on Saturday. Ledecky has won the last five combined Olympic and world titles in that event.

NBC Sports researcher Megan Soisson and The Associated Press contributed to this report from Gwangju.

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SWIM WORLDS: TV Schedule | Results

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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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
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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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