Three-time champion Sun Yang yesterday survived a fright in the FINA World Championships 800m freestyle heats, while Katie Ledecky of the US pulled out of the women’s 1,500m freestyle final on “medical grounds.”
Ledecky withdrew from the morning’s 200m freestyle heats in Gwangju and was assessed by doctors before deciding to also skip the 1,500m final later yesterday — an event she has crushed at the past three World Championships.
Sun, who retained his 400m title over the weekend and was the favorite to add the 200m title in yesterday’s late final, clocked a pedestrian 7 minutes, 48.12 seconds — but his attempt to conserve energy almost backfired as he squeezed through in the eighth spot for the 800m final.
“I went to bed at two this morning and got up at 7:40,” the 10-time world-title winner said. “It was my fifth swim this week, while most of the others were having their first race, but I don’t want to give up any of the events, whether the 200m or 800m. I’ll try to cope.”
Ledecky, who lost her 400m title to Australia’s Ariarne Titmus in a stunning upset on the first day, has complained of feeling unwell since arriving in South Korea, Team USA officials said yesterday.
However, the 14-time world champion had not withdrawn from the remainder of the meet, they said, meaning that she could still defend her 800m freestyle title this weekend.
Canada’s Commonwealth champion Taylor Ruck and Australia’s Emma McKeown, who took silver at the 2017 world championships, also pulled out to manage their heavy schedules.
In their absence, Sweden’s Olympic silver medalist Sarah Sjostrom topped heat times in 1:55.14, with Titmus third fastest in 1:56.34 and defending champion Federica Pellegrini fifth in 1:56.81.
Adam Peaty, who on Monday completed a hat-trick of world titles in the 100m breaststroke, topped the heat times in the 50m, touching in 26.28 seconds as he chases a golden treble over the one-lap race.
“It was literally training for me. I wasn’t coming in here this morning with any emotion or any expectation,” Peaty said. “I’ll just let the stroke flow. I’ve just got to mash up with a technique, and mash up with the nerves and emotion — and I’m sure it will be a good one.”
Kristof Milak of Hungary, tipped for a breakout meet this week, topped the heat times in the men’s 200m butterfly with a time of 1:54.19.
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