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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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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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