Katie Ledecky breaks female record for most swimming worlds medals

0 Comments

BUDAPEST — Katie Ledecky decided last fall to drop the individual 200m freestyle from her program, at least for one year. In a recent interview, she added one line to the end of her explanation about focusing on longer events in 2022.

“I still feel confident in my 200m free and my ability to step up on that relay,” said Ledecky, who swam the 200m free from 2014 through 2021.

As usual, Ledecky backed that up in the pool.

The greatest distance swimmer in history posted the third-fastest 4x200m free relay split in history, and the fastest of her career, as the U.S. quartet took gold on Wednesday.

Claire WeinsteinLeah Smith, Ledecky and Bella Sims clocked a championship record 7 minutes, 41.45 seconds to distance rival Australia by 2.41 seconds. The U.S. took silver in the event at the previous Olympics and worlds.

“It’s so easy to get up for these relays and just not think and go,” Ledecky said. “I had so much trust in these three. I think we’re always counted out, and we always deliver.”

SWIMMING WORLDS: TV Schedule | Results | U.S. Roster

Ledecky earned her 21st career world swimming championships medal, breaking her tie with Natalie Coughlin for the most by a woman in worlds history. Two men have more medals: Michael Phelps (33) and Ryan Lochte (27).

She also tied Lochte for the second-most gold medals (18), trailing only Phelps (26). Ledecky has one more event this week, her trademark 800m free, and then two more world championships before the 2024 Paris Olympics to chase Phelps. She has said she may try to swim through the 2028 Los Angeles Games, which would put Phelps’ records in real jeopardy.

Ledecky’s split on Wednesday was 1:53.67, trailing only Federica Pellegrini‘s 1:53.45 from the 2009 World Championships, where records fell everywhere due to since-banned high-tech swimsuits. And Sarah Sjostrom‘s 1:53.64 from the 2014 European Championships.

In Tokyo, Ledecky was fifth in the individual 200m free on the same night she had the final in the 1500m free, which she won. Two days later, she had the fastest split of the 32 swimmers in the 4x200m free relay final, 1:53.76.

Ledecky said before worlds that re-adding the 200m free “would be more on the table” if the to-be-announced 2024 Olympic swimming schedule, with one more day of swimming than in 2021, puts more time between the women’s 200m and 1500m frees. The men’s 200m and 1500m frees have traditionally been on different days.

Also Wednesday, 15-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh became the youngest individual world championships gold medalist since 2011 (Ye Shiwen), taking the 200m butterfly in a world junior record 2:05.20. American Hali Flickinger earned silver, just as she did at the 2019 Worlds.

(Weinstein, a younger 15 than McIntosh, became the youngest world champion since 2007 with her relay gold, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.)

Romanian 17-year-old David Popovici became the first swimmer to sweep the 100m and 200m frees at a worlds since the very first edition in 1973. Popovici won the 100m in 47.58, edging Frenchman Maxime Grousset by six hundredths.

“I’m a bit prouder of the 200m win,” said Popovici, the Chlorine Daddy who went faster in the 100m free semis with a world junior record 47.13. “You know, my neck is quite heavy because of the medals – so I need to strengthen that part for the next meets.”

The race lacked reigning Olympic and world champion Caeleb Dressel, who withdrew from the meet a day after scratching the 100m free semis on unspecified medical grounds.

French 20-year-old Leon Marchand completed a sweep of the individual medleys, taking the 200m by .49 over American Carson Foster, who also bagged silver in the 400m IM. Marchand competes at Arizona State under Bob Bowman, the longtime coach of Michael Phelps.

American Katharine Berkoff earned silver in the 50m backstroke, eight hundredths behind Canadian Kylie Masse.

Worlds continue Thursday with finals in the men’s 200m back (Ryan Murphy, Shaine Casas), 200m breaststroke (Nic Fink) and 4x200m free relay and the women’s 100m free (Claire Curzan, Torri Huske) and 200m breast (Lilly King, Kate Douglass).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Luz Long’s Olympic silver medal for sale from Jesse Owens long jump duel

Jesse Owens, Luz Long
Getty
0 Comments

One of the most consequential Olympic medals ever awarded is on the auction block — the silver medal captured in 1936 by Germany’s Luz Long, the long jumper who walked arm in arm through the stadium with Jesse Owens to celebrate their triumphs while Adolf Hitler watched from the stands.

Long’s family has decided to auction the medal and other collectibles from the German jumper’s career. Long was killed in World War II in 1943.

The auction house selling the medal has labeled Long’s collection “The Beacon of Hope.”

“The story of Jesse Owens never seems to end,” said Long’s granddaughter, Julia Kellner-Long, in a phone interview from her house in Munich. “My grandfather has always been inspirational and influential in the way I choose to see the world, and this is something I think the world outside needs. Now more than ever. It gives us hope.”

Long cemented himself in Olympic lore during the Berlin Games when he was the first to congratulate Owens on his triumph in the long jump. Later they walked around the stadium together and posed for pictures.

There’s also the story Owens told of Long approaching him after he fouled on his first two attempts in the preliminary round. With only one more try to make the final, Owens said Long suggested he take off a foot in front of the board, to assure he wouldn’t foul on his last try. Owens took that advice and went on to win the title — one of four he captured in Berlin — with a then-Olympic record jump of 8.06 meters (26 feet, 5 1/2 inches).

Owens was Black, and his stirring success at those Olympics was said to have annoyed Hitler by puncturing the Nazi myth of Aryan racial superiority.

The camaraderie between Owens and Long, and the relationship that ensued between the men and their families, are often held up as the prime example of what the Olympics are supposed to be about — a peaceful coming together of people from different countries and cultures who set their differences aside in the spirit of competition.

“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me,” Owens said, years later. “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace.”

The decision to sell came shortly after Luz’s son (and Julia’s father), Kai, died at age 80. Kellner-Long said the great responsibility of preserving her grandfather’s memorabilia should be passed onto an individual, or museum, that has the time and resources to do so. The family also wanted to use the sale to rekindle the story of Long and Owens.

“Even 86 years later, shining a beacon of hope is an important and realistic value, especially in a time of increasing racism, increasing exclusion and hatred,” Kellner-Long said.

The auction house started the bidding for Long’s medal at $50,000, and estimated the value at somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million. The bidding runs through Oct. 15. The value of Olympic medals on the open market varies widely. One of Owens’ four gold medals from 1936 fetched $1.46 million. Bill Russell’s gold medal from the 1956 Olympics recently sold for $587,500.

David Kohler of SCP Auctions, which is conducting the sale, said the medal is about Long, but also “the story of the courageousness and the athlete and what he did there.”

Long didn’t live long enough to see his legacy play out. He was killed in 1943 in the battle of St. Pietro on the Italian island of Sardinia. Shortly before that, he wrote a letter to Owens, one he predicted would be “the last letter I shall ever write.”

In it, Long asked Owens to go to Germany after the war and find his son.

“Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we were not separated by war,” Long wrote. “I am saying — tell him how things can be between men on this earth.”

Owens and Kai Long met several times over the years, including at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in 1966. Owens later was a best man at Kai’s wedding.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Jenny Simpson, most decorated U.S. miler, shifts focus with new Puma sponsorship

Jenny Simpson
Puma
0 Comments

Jenny Simpson, the most decorated U.S. female miler in history, plans to return to racing on Sunday with a new shoe sponsor, Puma.

Simpson, whose last race was the Cherry Blossom 10-mile road race in Washington, D.C., in September 2021, according to World Athletics, will run what she called “a little rust-buster” at the Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C.

“My intention is to turn my focus to the roads,” Simpson, 36, wrote in an email. “I have some great PUMA spikes that I love so the track isn’t off the table. But my emphasis will be road racing.”

Last year’s Cherry Blossom was her first race longer than 5,000 meters, according to World Athletics. What are the chances she eventually moves up to the marathon distance?

“This new chapter is an exploration,” she answered. “I’m going to let the races, training, and coaching guide the next steps as they come. I know I can physically do it, it’s a matter of whether I can be great at it and my team and I will only go there if we think we can be competitive. So, let’s say for chances… 51% :)”

Simpson made her first Olympic team in 2008 in the 3000m steeplechase, then in 2012 and 2016 in the 1500m, earning a bronze medal in Rio. She is the lone U.S. woman to win a world 1500m title (2011) or an Olympic 1500m medal.

From 2007 through 2019, Simpson finished in the top three in one of the 1500m, 5000m or 3000m steeplechase at all 13 annual USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Last year, she was 10th in the Olympic Trials 1500m in a bid to become the oldest U.S. Olympic 1500m runner in history, according to Olympedia.org.

Simpson focused much of her time this year helping her Colorado community heal and rebuild from a late December fire. She did not enter the USATF Outdoors for the first time since 2006.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!