Katie Ledecky wins by 21 seconds to open first full swim meet in one year

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky said the one-year break between full-on swim meets didn’t impact her goals for the Tokyo Olympics. She backed up that statement on Wednesday.

Ledecky, in her first broadcasted race since last March, crushed most of the other top U.S. 1500m freestylers, prevailing by 21.37 seconds to open a four-day Pro Series meet in San Antonio.

“I didn’t set too many expectations coming into this first race,” she said. “I knew getting the first race out of the way would kind of be a milestone in this journey back into real racing.”

Ledecky, who owns the 10 fastest times in history in the event, clocked 15 minutes, 42.92 seconds. She is the overwhelming favorite in the 1500m free this summer, when it’s on the Olympic program for the first time as a women’s event.

Her world record is 15:20.48. The second-fastest swimmer in history, retired Dane Lotte Friis, had a best time of 15:38.88.

ON HER TURF: Simone Manuel reflects on how her own story is told

Ledecky lost one 1500m freestyle in her life — when she was 13 years old in 2010. She also withdrew ahead of the event final at the 2019 World Championships with an illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win in 15:40.89.

Ashley Twichell, who in 2019 made the Tokyo Olympic team in the open-water 10km, was second on Wednesday, followed by Erica Sullivan. They came into the meet ranked second and third among Americans since the start of 2019.

Ledecky and Stanford training group partner Simone Manuel are racing in their first top-level meet since last March.

They spent last spring training in at least one backyard pool, then passed on meets last fall and earlier this winter while getting back into more normal practice. They did race within their group and against those who train at nearby Berkeley.

The San Antonio meet also includes Caeleb DresselRyan MurphyRyan Lochte and Regan Smith as swimmers prep for June’s Olympic Trials, where the top two per individual event are in line to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

The San Antonio meet continues the next three nights at 8 ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Ledecky is entered in her other best events — the 400m, 200m and 800m frees — the next three days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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