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America's Ledecky wins inaugural Olympic women's 1500m freestyle gold

Agence France-Presse
America's Ledecky wins inaugural Olympic women's 1500m freestyle gold
Gold medalist Kathleen Ledecky of the United States poses on the podium after the final of the women's 1500m freestyle swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on July 28, 2021.
Odd Andersen / AFP

TOKYO – World record-holder Katie Ledecky claimed the inaugural women's Olympic 1500m gold medal Wednesday, producing a commanding swim to win her first title of the Tokyo Games.

The American, just 75 minutes after her disappointing fifth in the 200m freestyle final, clocked 15mins 37.34secs ahead of teammate Erica Sullivan (15:41.41) and Germany's Sarah Kohler (15:42.91).

It was well outside her own world record time of 15:20.48, but still one of the fastest ever.

The result was never really in doubt. While Ledecky has swum under 15:40 countless times in her career, just one other swimmer, Denmark's Lotte Friis, has ever broken the barrier.

But Sullivan went close, with a powerful final 200m to narrow the gap on her distinguished team-mate in the final stages.

Ledecky went out strongly and was ahead by a body length after 200m, and she never relinquished the lead to add another chapter to her glittering career.

The women's 1500m is one three new events on the Olympic swimming program this year, along with the men's 800m free, and the mixed 4x100m medley relay. 

Ledecky, who won four gold and a silver at the Rio Olympics, has now claimed one gold and a silver in Tokyo with the 800m to go and potentially a relay.

2021 TOKYO OLYMPICS SWIMMING
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