Olympics: Australia’s Ariarne Titmus Triumphs in 200 Freestyle In Tokyo Tussle II; Katie Ledecky Fifth

Jul 28, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Ariarne Titmus (AUS) celebrates after the women's 200m freestyle final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
GOLDEN DOUBLE: Australia's Ariarne Titmus joins Shane Gould (1972) and Ian Thorpe (2004) as the third Australian to win the 200 and 400m double. Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: Australia’s Ariarne Titmus Triumphs in 200 Freestyle In Tokyo Tussle II; Katie Ledecky Fifth

Australia’s latest international freestyle star Ariarne Titmus has dethroned swimming’s queen Katie Ledecky for the second time in three days in another stunning gold medal swim in the 200m freestyle in Tokyo – to take a golden double in the pool.

Jul 28, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Ariarne Titmus (AUS) with her gold medal during the medals ceremony for the women's 200m freestyle during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

MASKED MARAUDER: Even a specially designed Australian mask can’t hide the obvious delight of a golden double for Ariarne Titmus – The Terminator strikes again in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher

The 20-year-old Tasmanian-born Queenslander was too fast and too strong as she charged to the finish line in a new Olympic record time of 1:53.50 – breaking American Allison Schmitt’s 2012 mark of 1:53.61, with a brave earlier leader Siobhan Haughey taking silver in 1:53.92 and winning Hong Kong’s first ever Olympic swimming medal.Titmus was fifth at the 50m turn in 27.04, moving up to fourth at the half way mark in 55.85 before working hard to hit the 150m mark and powered off the final turn with Haughey – over half a second ahead – in her sights.

Backing her backend speed and endurance that won her the 400m, Titmus stormed home to take the gold – splitting 28.80 on the final 50m – to Haughey’s 29;.74 – the only swimmer in the field to break 29 seconds on the final lap.

The bronze medal going to Canada’s 2016 Olympic 100m champion and early leader Penny Oleksiak in 1:54.70 with defending champion Ledecky fifth in 1:55.21 and 2008 champion Federica Pellegrini seventh in her fifth Olympic final in the event, in 1:55.91.

Ledecky was never really in the hunt, seventh down the first 50 and fifth for the remainder of the race. For Ledecky it was the first time in 36 major international meets (Olympics, Worlds, Pan Pacs) that she did not win a medal.

But the extraordinary athlete that Ledecky is, she returned to the pool, composed, controlled and on song to win her seventh Olympic gold taking the first historic 1500m gold in an emotionally charged 15.37.34.

Earlier in the week it was Titmus who stalked and then chased down defending champion Ledecky to snatch the Dolphins second gold of the Games in a gripping duel in the pool between these two great champions, in the 400m freestyle. Australia now has four gold in the pool – better than Rio, better than London and chasing a record golden haul.

Ledecky was gallant in defeat again but was no match for her younger rivals in another greatly anticipated race dubbed in Australia as “The Tokyo Tussle II” – with television audiences in their millions around the world but particularly on NBC in US and the Seven Network in a swimming-crazed Australia.

Jul 28, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Ariarne Titmus (AUS) reacts after receiving her gold medal during the medals ceremony for the women's 200m freestyle during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

CALMING INFLUENCE: The softer side of Australia’s mad-cap- coach and “Ultimate Warrior” impersonator Dean Boxall who has been the man behind Australia’s latest freestyle swimming superstar Ariarne Titmus. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher

There was a tearful pooldeck reunion between Titmus and mad-cap coach Dean Boxall, with her Mum and dad, sister and grand parents watching on and screeaming at the television from Noosa on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, where the parents of the Australian Dolphins (PODS) are watching every golden lap.

“Arnie” as dad Steve affectionately calls his “Terminator” daughter, becomes only the third Australian woman joining Shane Gould (1972 in Munich) and Susie O’Neill (2000 in Sydney) to win the 200m freestyle since it was first included on the Olympic program and won by American Debbie Meyer in Mexico in 1968.

Titmus also joins Gould (1972) and Australia’s greatest Olympian Ian Thorpe (Athens in 2004) to win the 200-400m freestyle double. For Ledecky it was the first time in 36 major international meets (Olympics, Worlds, Pan Pacs) that she did not win a medal.

“That was a hell of a tough one…I’m bloody exhausted,” said Titmus, who said she knew that Haughey really wanted it. “I could tell by the way that she swam yesterday morning, so I knew it would be tough to beat her.

“It’s not the time (1:53.50) I thought I could do this morning, but it’s the Olympics and there’s a lot of other things going on. So, it was just about winning here. I’m very happy.”

An excited Haughey said: “I have worked hard for this for the last five years: I made the semi-finals five years ago (at the Olympic Games Rio 2016) and I knew I wanted to make the final at this meet and I felt like I had always been so close to making the podium – now now finally being able to medal means so much,” said the US-based Haughey.

Oleksiak also pulled out an impressive swim. Known for her front-half speed, she managed to go out fast. But when she faded in the middle 50s, she found a second wind to surge for bronze. It’s the 21-year-old sixth medal and second of this Games, with a silver in the 400 freestyle relay.

“Before my 200 today I had a moment where I literally thought I was going to pass out from nerves but I was like ‘OK, Penny, if you come last, it doesn’t matter, you still have like three more races to go to get medals,” Oleksiak said. “I just had to calm myself down and really just think of it as like a regular meet. I really wanted a medal, but I knew it was going to be a really tough race. All these girls go 1.53, 1.54s, and I mean my best time was two days ago with the 1.55, so I knew it was going to be a dog fight and I was just happy to be a part of it.”

The 400m on Day Two had been one of the most anticipated races of these Games with Titmus winning the gold medal in 3:56.69, the second-fastest time in history.

American Ledecky, the defending Olympic champion and world-record holder, won a sterling silver in 3:57.36.

Titmus had been quick to heap praise on Ledecky saying: “I would not be here without you” as they embraced on pool deck – both the victor and the vanquished smiling as they greeted on deck.

But in Tokyo we could well be seeing the first signs of a changing of the guard….and after Ledecky’s ripping 1500m gold….the Arnie v Katie show returns for Tokyo Tussle III….it ain’t over quite yet.

WOMENS 200M FREESTYLE FINAL

  1. Ariarne Titmus (AUS)1:53.50 (Olympic Record)
  2. Siobhan Haughey (HKG) 1:53.92 (Asian Record)
  3. Penny Oleksiak (Canada) 1:54.70
  4. Yang Junxuan (CHN) 1:55.01
  5. Katie Ledecky (USA) 1:55.21
  6. Barbora Seemanova (CZE) 1:55.45
  7. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 1:55.91
  8. Madison Wilson (AUS) 1:56.39

 

Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Ariarne Titmus (AUS) after the women's 200m freestyle semifinals during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 26, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Ariarne Titmus (AUS) celebrates after finishing ahead of Katie Ledecky (USA) to win the women's 400m freestyle final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

AN OMG MOMENT: Ariarne Titmus in disbelief. Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports

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