Ariarne Titmus (Australia) pulled off a major upset by defeating defending champion Katie Ledecky (USA) in the 400m women’s freestyle final at the 2021 Olympics on Monday.
The Australian swimmer clocked an impressive 3:56.6 to win her maiden Olympic gold medal. Incidentally, Ariarne Titmus, nicknamed “The Terminator” is the only female swimmer to chase down Ledecky twice since 2013.
In the much-anticipated clash, Ledecky took the pool as the pre-tournament favorite. The American swimmer has been a champion swimmer for quite some time now.
She won gold as a 15-year-old at the 2012 London Games before claiming an impressive haul of four gold medals and one silver at the 2016 Rio Games. But ever since Ariarne Titmus, 20, dethroned Ledecky at the 2019 world championships, there has been a rivalry to watch out for.
The two swimmers had started the race strongly with Ledecky leading the pack for the majority of the race. Ledecky, the world record holder in the event, finished first in 100m in 57.67. Ariarne Titmus, on the other hand, clocked 57.74.
By the time the swimmers approached the 300m mark, Ledecky was holding on to her lead. But during the turn for the final lap, Ariarne Titmus switched to top gear. She covered the ground against a fatigued Ledecky to touch the wall and create a new Olympic record.
China’s Li Bingjipe, on the other hand, created a new Asian record by clocking 4:01.08. Li Bingjipe came third and won the bronze medal.
Who is Ariarne Titmus?
Ariarne Titmus made her Dolphins debut in 2016, and has been on the rise since then. Representing Australia at the 2017 World Championships, the Tasmanian-born swimmer won a bronze medal in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay and finished fourth in the women’s 400m freestyle.
The following year, she shattered her 400m freestyle personal best. In the process, she also smashed the world record at the World Short Course Championships. Later that year, she won three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.
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Ariarne Titmus will compete in two more middle-distance races at the Olympics. She will participate in 200m and 800m freestyle. Ledecky will be the defending champion in both events, and will once again be the favorite for gold.