Titmus takes gold as duel with Ledecky surpasses hype

Supreme: Margaret MacNeil of Canada reacts after winning the 100m butterfly final as Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden looks on. — AP

TOKYO: The great pool rivalry between Australia and the US passed to a new generation on Monday when a 20-year-old known as “Terminator” hunted down the US dominator of women’s distance swimming in a dramatic 400m freestyle final in Tokyo.

Australian Ariarne Titmus clawed back Stanford graduate Katie Ledecky’s early lead to win gold, delaying the American’s quest for the three more gold medals that would make her the most successful female Olympic swimmer of all time.

“I can’t believe it, I’m trying to contain my emotions,” said Titmus, who praised her rival for raising the bar in the sport.

“I thanked her, I wouldn’t be here without her. She set this incredible standard. All credit to her for the swimmer she is.”

Team USA got their victory in the 4x100m men’s relay, beating Italy by more than a second with Australia taking the bronze.

British swimmer Adam Peaty roared with pride after he became the first Olympic swimmer to defend an Olympic title with a gold medal in the 100m breaststroke. Canadian Maggie MacNeil stormed to victory in a close women’s 100m butterfly.

Hours after losing the 400m freestyle to Timus, Ledecky was back in the pool and posted the quickest time in qualifying for the 200m freestyle.

Ledecky swam a time of 1:55.28 while Titmus, fresh off her gold success, was fourth fastest with 1:55.88. Canada’s Penny Oleksiak was second quickest and Australian Madison Wilson third.

World record holder Federico Pellegrini of Italy only scraped into the semi-finals with the 15th fastest time.

In the men’s 200m butterfly heats, world record holder Kristof Milak of Hungary was comfortably the fastest with his time of 1:53.58, 0.86 seconds ahead of the second quickest swimmer Wang Kuan-Hung.

Chad Le Clos of South Africa, gold medal winner in London and silver medallist in Rio, scraped into the semi-finals in the 16th and last spot.

“I want to do a similar time in the semi-finals and save the best for the final,” Milak said.

“It was a good feeling to look around see the other guys and say, ok, let’s start this.”

In the women’s 200m medley, Kate Douglass of the United States was fastest, 0.54 seconds ahead of world record holder and defending Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu. — Reuters

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