What a race.
In one of the most anticipated events of the Tokyo Olympics, 24-year-old American swimming sweetheart Katie Ledecky made history.
Australian rival, 20-year-old Ariarne Titmus, edged her out by .67 of a second in the women’s 400-meter freestyle on Sunday night.
This was the first time Ledecky has not won gold in an Olympic individual event.
She is a legend.
Ledecky holds the most medals in history for a female swimmer—five Olympic gold medals and 15 World Championship gold medals.
And after a 3:57.36 minute swim while still catching her breath, do you know what she said to the cameras?
What would we assume she’d look like and say?
This athlete not only could have been full of ego, anger, or exhaustion, she also could have felt what she was—defeated. Her competition had hugged the lane line and stayed a half-body length behind her dragging off of her lap after lap.
Instead, the bright blue-eyed young woman sounded like the champion that she is. Replying to NBC reporter Michele Tafoya after the race about what happened, Katie Ledecky spoke slowly and clearly.
“I think I flipped at the 300 and saw she was right there and it was going to be a fight to the finish. I fought tooth and nail.”
And then went on to say this about Titmus, the new gold medalist:
”It was a good time by me, just an awesome swim by her.”
Boom. That is what I call sportsmanship—and mindful speech. She told the truth and also lifted up her opponent.
It was an incredible event. Ledecky may have placed behind Titmus, but she finished with her second-fastest time in history. And, she already had raced in a 200-meter freestyle competition that day.
Regardless of the color of the medals, the athletes’ competitiveness pushed them both to perform their best.
In fact, Katie Ledecky brushed off the loss so well that she set an Olympic record in a debut event of a 1,500-meter freestyle heat as well with a time of 15:35.35.
Here is that record blasting swim.
Katie Ledecky remains the most decorated female swimmer of all time. I look forward to following the rest of her races—and interviews.