Katie Ledecky swims 200m free time at nationals that would have won world title

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Katie Ledecky didn’t swim the 200m freestyle at last month’s world championships, but her winning time at the U.S. Championships on Wednesday would have won the world title by nearly a half-second.

Ledecky prevailed in 1 minute, 54.50 seconds at nationals in Irvine, California, distancing Erin Gemmell (who lowered her personal best by 1.27 seconds on Wednesday) by 1.64 seconds. Ledecky is undefeated in domestic 200m free races for eight years.

“I’m really happy with that time,” she said on Olympic Channel. “I didn’t feel so great today, so really wasn’t expecting to go that fast.”

SWIMMING NATIONALS: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Ledecky swam the fourth-best time of her career. Only Australian rival Ariarne Titmus has gone faster this year — a 1:53.31 at her national championships in May. Titmus, who also broke Ledecky’s 400m free world record at Australian nationals, skipped worlds to focus on the Commonwealth Games that start later this week.

Ledecky passed on the 200m free at worlds in part because the 200m free semis were the same night as the 1500m free final.

China’s Yang Junxuan won the world title in 1:54.92. Neither American made the final.

Ledecky hasn’t decided whether she will re-add the 200m free to her program ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Last year, she was fifth in the 200m free, her shortest event, at the Tokyo Olympics, when she also won the 1500m free in the same session. For Paris, the 1500m free and 200m free are separated by two days, which betters the chances that Ledecky puts it back into her program at Olympic Trials.

Ledecky’s last victory in the 200m free at a major international meet was at the 2016 Rio Games.

In Wednesday’s men’s 200m free, 19-year-old Luke Hobson upset Olympian Kieran Smith and won in 1:46.14. Hobson, who was seventh at April’s world championships trials, lowered his personal best by 78 hundredths.

Matt Fallon, a rising Penn sophomore, won the men’s 200m breaststroke in a personal best by one second, 2:07.91, which would have won silver at the world championships. Fallon skipped April’s world team trials to focus on academics.

Mackenzie Looze, daughter of Indiana coach Ray Looze, won the women’s 200m breast in 2:25.35, a personal best by 2.14 seconds.

Isabelle Stadden upset world team members Rhyan White and Claire Curzan in the women’s 200m backstroke, prevailing in 2:07.29. She now ranks sixth in the world this year and fourth among Americans.

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Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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