Katie Ledecky Takes Silver in 'Tremendous' Women's 400m Freestyle for First Tokyo Olympics Medal
In her first race of the Tokyo Olympics, Katie Ledecky has secured a silver.
On Monday at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, the 24-year-old swimmer, a five-time gold medalist, finished in second place behind Australian Ariarne Titmus in the women's 400m freestyle final, which was one of three events in which Ledecky is both the world record holder and the defending Olympic gold medalist.
In a stunning finish, Titmus caught up to Ledecky and made her move to first in the final 50m. Ultimately, the Australian star finished 3:56.69, just 0.67 seconds ahead of Ledecky's 3:57.36. China's Li Bingjie won bronze with 4:01.08. (American Paige Madden finished in seventh place with 4:06.81.)
Though Ledecky did not win gold, she is still the world and Olympic record holder (3:56.46), which she clocked at the 2016 Rio Games. Monday's silver was Ledecky's first individual silver medal at an Olympic Games.
"Honestly, at the 200m I was a bit worried, but I did not come to the Olympic Games unprepared. I had to trust myself and stay as composed as I could. Use the speed that I have," Titmus said, adding about Ledecky: "And all that against a woman who has an amazing back end of her race. I'm really proud."
After her "tough" race, Ledecky told reporters that she "delivered" by bringing home a medal for Team USA, despite it not being gold. "I couldn't do much better than that. A tremendous race. A lot of fun. I can't be too disappointed. It was my second best swim ever (in 400m freestyle). I felt like I fought tooth and nail and that's all you can ask for," she said, later adding, "Of course you always want to hear your national anthem, but I'm proud of how I swam and how I got to that point. It's not an easy journey, it's never an easy journey to the podium, and so it's not something I take for granted, being up there."
Speaking about Titmus, Ledecky added, "She definitely swam a really smart race. She was really controlled upfront. I felt smooth and strong. I looked up at 300m and she was right there so I knew it would be a battle to the end. I didn't feel like I died or really fell off. She just had a faster final 50m or 75m and got her hand to the wall first."
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For the past couple of years, Titmus, who is a first-time Olympian, has been a formidable opponent for Ledecky. At the 2019 world championships, Titmus defeated Ledecky in the 400m freestyle final as well. With her gold, Titmus remains the top performer in the world this year in the women's 400m freestyle event.
Ledecky, who is a specialist at distance freestyle events and a gold medal contender, will next compete in the women's 200m, 800m and 1500m freestyle competitions.
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.