Sun Yang
AP

Sun Yang pulls a Katie Ledecky at Asian Games

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It became known as the Ledecky Slam three years ago. Sun Yang just matched it, not at the world championships, but at the Asian Games.

Sun, a 26-year-old Chinese swimmer, swept the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles at the multi-sport quadrennial event in Indonesia, capping it with his fourth gold on Friday.

It’s not much of a surprise. Sun won the 400m and 1500m at the 2012 London Olympics, then snatched the 200m free in Rio. He also owns nine world championships among the four distances.

Sun has never recorded the Slam at a world championships like Ledecky, though. Nobody has.

He swept the 400m, 800m and 1500m frees at the 2013 Worlds and took 200m silver, 400m gold and 800m gold in 2015 before controversially not showing for the 1500m free final, citing heart issues after a report of a warm-up pool altercation.

At 2017 Worlds, Sun was fifth in the 800m free and withdrew from the 1500m free before the heats, continuing a recent trend of his prowess moving toward the shorter distances.

His 1500m time Friday — 14:58.53 — was 27.51 seconds off his world record from the 2012 Olympics and puts him 15th in the world this year. Sun ranks No. 3 in the world in 2018 in the 200m, No. 1 in the 400m and No. 8 in the 800m.

That makes it unlikely that Sun could repeat the feat at the 2019 Worlds in South Korea or the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where the men’s 800m free makes its Olympic debut.

Also at the Asian Games, Japanese 18-year-old Rikako Ikee won the women’s 50m and 100m frees and 50m and 100m butterflies, in addition to a pair of relay golds. She’s setting up to be one of the 2020 Olympic host nation’s biggest stars.

Ikee proved versatile at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo two weeks ago, winning the 100m fly in a national record and taking second in the 200m free, one spot ahead of Ledecky.

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MORE: Katie Ledecky closes Pan Pacs with 21-second win

Sun Yang requests second national anthem after flags fall in Asian Games medal ceremony

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Sun Yang thought he’d seen it all in his glittering swimming career. That was until Sunday’s opening night of swimming finals at the Asian Games.

In an embarrassing technical blunder for games organizers, the flag hoist collapsed during the playing of the Chinese national anthem as Sun stood atop the podium after winning the 200m freestyle. Video is here.

Officials picked the flags up off the pool deck and hastily reattached them to the broken metal hoist but were unable to raise them again while the anthem was played for a second time, to the bemusement of Sun and spectators watching in the stands.

Diplomatically, Sun played down the incident when quizzed by reporters, saying he was just relieved to finally win the 200m free title which had eluded him in the two previous editions of the Asian Games.

Even though he is the reigning Olympic and world champion, Sun had never won the four-lap race at the Asian games, finishing runner-up to South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan in 2010 and second again to Japan’s Kosuke Hagino four years ago.

“I’ve waited eight years for this title,” Sun said. “It also gives me a golden grand slam of Olympic, world and Asian titles. It’s a perfect result, a dream. It’s unbelievable.”

Officials held the flags up in their hands for the subsequent medal ceremony before locating a replacement hoist for the remaining presentations. By the end of the night, China edged Japan 4-3 in the first seven finals decided.

Sun, who is trying to win the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees in Jakarta, cruised to victory in one minute 45.43 seconds.

He was outside his best, but with a busy program the 26-year-old did enough to win comfortably and celebrated in animated fashion, clenching his fists and punching the air in delight.

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MORE: Five thoughts off Pan Pacific Championships

Sun Yang’s bid for history denied in 800m freestyle (video)

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In 2015, Katie Ledecky completed the “Ledecky Slam” by becoming the first swimmer — male or female — to win the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles at one worlds.

Sun Yang has come close to the same feat, but again this year was derailed despite winning the 400m and 200m frees in Budapest earlier this week.

Sun finished fifth in the 800m freestyle final, eight seconds behind Italian winner Gabriele Detti. The controversial Sun had won the 800m free at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 Worlds, but is clearly now better at the shorter distances.

Detti, 22, overtook Poland’s Wojciech Wojdak in the last 50 meters and added to Italy’s strong recent history in distance freestyles.

Gregorio Paltrinieri, the Olympic 800m free champion and 2015 World 1500m champion, took bronze. Detti was third in the Rio Olympic 400m and 1500m frees.

Paltrinieri and Detti are clearly the swimmers to beat in Sunday’s 1500m free, though Sun owns the world record and won Olympic and world titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Sun, 25, remains on nine world titles in individual events, trailing only Ryan Lochte (10) and Michael Phelps (15).

Men’s 800m Freestyle Results
Gold: Gabriele Detti (ITA) — 7:40.77

Silver: Wojciech Wojdak (POL) — 7:41.73
Bronze: Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) — 7:42.44
4. Henrik Christiansen (NOR) — 7:44.21
5. Sun Yang (CHN) — 7:48.87
6. Felix Auboeck (AUT) — 7:51.20
7. Florian Wellbrock (GER) — 7:52.27
8. Zane Grothe (USA) — 7:52.43

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