Titmus beats Ledecky to gold in Olympic blockbuster

2 months ago 17
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Australia's Ariane Titmus beat legendary American Katie Ledecky to win gold in the 400m freestyle final at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

Swimming in lane three, next to Ledecky in lane four, Titmus clocked 3:56.69 to beat Ledecky in 3:57.36. China's Li Bingjie (4:01.08) was third.

Titmus became the first Aussie woman to win the 400m freestyle at the Olympics since the iconic Shane Gould in 1972. It was Ledecky's first loss in an individual event at the Olympics.

"I can't believe it. I'm trying to contain my emotions," Titmus said on pool deck afterwards.

"This past year, I don't know if it's gone fast or slow but more than anything, to get here was a relief. Then to come here and do the job, I'm over the moon."

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Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia reacts after winning the gold medal in the Women's 400m Freestyle. (Getty)
Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky react after the Women's 400m Freestyle Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Getty)

The battle between 20-year-old Titmus and Ledecky, a five-time gold medallist across the past two Olympics, has been one of the most anticipated battles of the Tokyo Games.

Titmus handed Ledecky her first-ever loss in a distance race at a major meet when she won the 400m at the 2019 world championships. Now she has dethroned the legend - a five-time Olympic gold medallist - on the biggest stage of all.

There was talk of bad blood before the 400m final but the pair shared a nice moment in the pool and on the deck afterwards. Titmus was full of respect for her rival.

"I thanked her. I wouldn't be here without her," Titmus said.

"She set this incredible standard and all credit to her for the swimmer she is. I've just been trying to chase her.

"It's really exciting now that we kind of have this battle going. It's really fun to race. That's the best part about it."

Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky embrace after their epic 400m showdown at the Tokyo Olympics. (Getty)

Ledecky took the race out hard, on her own world record pace. She might have hoped to break the Australian but could not shake Titmus.

Ledecky led by 0.66 at the 200m mark, then just 0.16 at the 300m. Titmus took the lead at the final turn, then powered home to victory and glory.

"I tried to stay as composed as I could and then just tried to stick to my race plan. I can't believe I actually pulled it off."

Ariarne Titmus competes in the Women's 400m Freestyle Final, en route to gold. (Getty)

She joined only Gould and Lorraine Crapp as Australian champions in the women's Olympic 400m.

Titmus will back-up for her 200m freestyle heat on Monday night.

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