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Katie Ledecky wins by 46 seconds in first race of Olympic year

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Katie Ledecky added to her distance legend by winning a 1500m freestyle by 46.83 seconds to kick off the Olympic year and a Tyr Pro Swim Series meet in Des Moines on Wednesday.

Ledecky, who owns the 10 fastest times in history in the new Olympic event, clocked 15:29.51, the fifth-fastest ever. Leah Smith, an Olympic or world medalist at 400m and 800m, was second in 16:16.34. The full race video is here.

The meet continues through Saturday (TV schedule here), though the focus remains on June’s Olympic Trials and the Tokyo Games in July and August.

“It’s March — we don’t gear up for this meet in any special way,” Ledecky said, according to the Washington Post, while also noting she went six seconds faster than her 2019 world-leading time from the U.S. Open in December.

She withdrew before the 1500m final at last summer’s world championships, spending seven hours in a local emergency room with what she believed was a stomach virus.

Ledecky, undefeated at 800m and 1500m since winning the 2012 Olympic 800m free at age 15, is bidding to swim the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees in Tokyo, plus the 4x200m free relay.

She was on the silver-medal 4x100m free in Rio but was not part of that relay at the biggest meets of 2018 or 2019 and isn’t expected to be in Tokyo. The addition of the 1500m to the Olympic program made it a more of a stretch to train for the sprint-like 100m.

No U.S. woman has earned five gold medals at a single Games, though fellow former Stanford swim star Simone Manuel could also achieve the feat this summer.

Ledecky earned four golds in Rio, becoming the second woman to sweep the 200m, 400m and 800m frees at a single Games. The men’s 800m free makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

“I’m training right now just as well or better than I was in Rio,” Ledecky said before this week’s meet, according to the Post. “I feel like whenever I can do things in training that I’ve never done before, that I’m in a good place.”

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Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

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