America's Katie Ledecky wins 1500m freestyle, gets sixth career gold

World record-holder Katie Ledecky took victory in 15:37.34 to secure her sixth Olympic gold medal.

Katie Ledecky, of the United States, celebrates after winning the women's 1500-meters freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics.   -  AP

World record-holder Katie Ledecky won the first gold medal of her 2020 Olympic campaign on Wednesday in the debut of the women's 1,500 meter freestyle.

Ariarne Titmus wins another Olympic gold for Australia as Katie Ledecky finishes fifth  

She cruised to victory with a time of 15:37.34 - more than four seconds ahead of silver medalist Erica Sullivan, also of the United States. Germany's Sarah Kohler took home the bronze.

It was quite a morning at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre for Ledecky, who seemed a bit overcome by the ups and downs she experienced in a little over an hour.

She tumbled over the lane rope to hug Sullivan, let out an uncharacteristic scream toward the American cheering section in the mostly empty arena and seemed to be holding back tears as she pulled her goggles back down over her eyes before exiting the pool.

“After the 200, I knew I had to turn the page very quickly,” Ledecky said. “In the warm-down pool I was thinking of my family. Kind of each stroke I was thinking of my grandparents.”

Her voice choked with emotion. She crunched her eyes trying not to cry.

“They’re the toughest four people I know,” Ledecky said, “and that’s what helped me get through that.”

 

In her first final of the day, Ledecky was blown away by her Australian rival, Titmus, who made it 2-for-2 over the American with a victory in the 200 free.

Ledecky didn't even win a medal — the first time that's ever happened to her in an Olympic race. She was far behind all the way, never getting any higher than her fifth-place finish.

(With inputs from AP)

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