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Sports Shorts: Ledecky breaks world record to overshadow Phelps

Last updated on: August 25, 2014 02:06 IST

Sports Shorts: Ledecky breaks world record to overshadow Phelps

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American teenager Katie Ledecky broke her second world record in less than 24 hours while Michael Phelps suffered a rare defeat at the Pan Pacific championships in Australia on Sunday.

Ledecky hacked almost six seconds off her 1,500 metres freestyle world mark, which she set in Texas in June, when she charged through the 30-lap event in 15 minutes, 28.36 seconds.

The 17-year-old finished almost half a minute ahead of her nearest rival - an almost unimaginable margin in a sport where medals are often decided by hundredths of seconds - to collect her fifth title of the championships.

Ledecky broke her 400m world record on Saturday and came within a whisker of eclipsing her 800m world best on Thursday.

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Image: Katie Ledecky of the United States celebrates winning the Women's 1500m Freestyle Final
Photographs: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

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'That was probably one of my most painful races'

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She also won the 200m individual event and anchored the United States to victory in the 4x200m to emerge as the biggest winner of the four-day meet at Australia's Gold Coast.

"That was probably one of my most painful races, I don't know whether to throw up or not," Ledecky told reporters.

"But it paid off in the end. Pretty early on it felt like I was on world record pace.

"I was pretty sure I had it. Still, six seconds is pretty surprising."

Ledecky's performances have caught the eye of Phelps, who said: "She's a stud. Watching her swim, it's remarkable."

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Image: Katie Ledecky


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Third gold

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Phelps picked up his third gold medal of the meet when he helped the U.S. win the men's 4x100m medley relay after he was surprisingly beaten in the 200m individual medley, an event he had won at the last three Olympics before his short-lived retirement after London 2012.

Still struggling to find his best, Phelps was touched out by Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, who got his hand on the wall first in 1:56.02 to claim his second gold after also winning the 400 IM.

Asked about his week after signing off with gold in the medley relay, Phelps said in a pooldeck interview that it had been "up and down" but added "there's no better way to end a great week of racing then being with these guys and finishing with a win."

Phelps, once the master of winning tight races, finished just 0.02 behind Hagino while his team mate Ryan Lochte was left wondering what might have been after he took it too easy in the morning heats and failed to qualify for the final.

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Image: Michael Phelps of the USA swims the Men's 200m IM heats
Photographs: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

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Japan also won both 200m breaststroke finals

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Lochte won the consolation final in the same time as Hagino won the main event to join Phelps in the American team for next year's world championships in Russia, but didn't get a medal.

Japan also won both 200m breaststroke finals with Yasuhiro Koseki taking out the men's race and teenager Kanako Watanabe clinching the women's.

Brazil claimed their first win of the championships when Bruno Fratus won the men's 50m freestyle sprint in 21.44 while Canada also picked up their first when Ryan Cochrane won the men's 800m title.

Australian sprinter Cate Campbell collected two more titles to finish the meet with four golds. She edged out her younger sister Bronte to win the 50m dash then anchored the host-nation to win the women's medley relay.

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Image: Kanako Watanabe of Japan celebrates winning the Women's 200m Breaststroke Final
Photographs: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

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Serena plays young Townsend in symbolic US Open opener

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Serena Williams, who opens her quest for a third successive US Open title with a meeting against fellow African American Taylor Townsend on Tuesday, said Arthur Ashe would have been proud.

On Arthur Ashe Kids' Day that drew legions of young hopefuls to the National Tennis Center on Saturday, Williams pondered the significance of her clash against the 18-year-old Townsend and the legacy of Ashe, whose name graces the center court stadium.

"I think he would say it's a great opportunity to see a veteran American player play the future of American tennis," 32-year-old Williams told reporters about her match against the 2012 Australian Open girls'champion.

"He was such an amazing guy. I had an opportunity to meet him. So I think he would be really proud and honored to see so many young African-American players...doing so well and playing so hard and just being role models for the next generation."

Williams said she took a lot from the example set by Ashe, a three-times major winner who claimed the US title in 1968, and died in 1993 from AIDS-related pneumonia.

"I believe he had a great positive spirit," said the world number one. "You know, you have to go through what he went through. He had an incredibly positive spirit and just a positive outlook on everything.

"Obviously I didn't get to know him. I was incredibly young when I met him and it was ever so brief, but his legend absolutely lives on."

The top seed said playing Townsend would be special.

"It's going to be a great match for me. She's such a great player," said Williams, who won her first US title on Arthur Ashe Stadium court in 1999.

"I have been able to see her play a little bit. She does everything really, really well. We're really good friends. We always talk and always text each other. It's going to be a really tough match for me.

"She's a very aggressive player. She comes to the net. She makes her shots. You don't really see that in tennis so much...it's good, refreshing and I think it's the future of tennis."

Williams is determined to end a disappointing Grand Slam season on a high note.

After a fourth-round loss in the Australian Open, a second-round exit from the French Open and a third-round ouster at Wimbledon, Williams is hungry for victory.

After wobbling away from Wimbledon after an illness forced her to withdraw from a doubles match, Williams has won at Cincinnati and Stanford and reached the semi-finals in Montreal in her US Open run-up events.

"I think those matches were good for me because I haven't played a lot of matches this year. So technically I should be perfectly fine," she said. "I haven't played that much tennis this year."

Victory at Flushing Meadows would give her a sixth US Open crown and lift her career haul of Grand Slam singles titles to 18, tying her with fellow-Americans Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

Still, echoing Ashe's positive spirit, Williams said if she fell short there would be another opportunity.

"Australian, Wimbledon, and French also could have been 18," she remarked. "Didn't quite happen.

"But there's always next year and the year after, so you don't give up."

NEXT: Manchester United set to sign Real's Di Maria


Image: Serena Williams
Photographs: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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Di Maria on verge of leaving Real, says Ancelotti

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Angel Di Maria is on the verge of leaving Real Madrid, coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted on Sunday.

"Di Maria has not trained with us today and he came in to say goodbye to the players and people at the club," Ancelotti told a news conference in Madrid.

"We are thankful for what he has done at this club. There is nothing official yet but it is being sorted out. I am very happy with the work that he has done for Madrid but we have the chance to replace him well.

"The decision is his and the club has done what it could to keep him here but he thought differently and so good luck to him."

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Image: Angel di Maria of Real Madrid
Photographs: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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Di Maria likely to cost more than the 50 million pounds

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Di Maria has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United and Ancelotti admitted last week that the Argentine had been offered a new deal but instead asked to leave.

It is believed that he felt under-valued and wanted an improved salary to put him in line with the club's top earners.

Meanwhile, media reports in England are to be believed, then Red Devils are close to signing Di Maria in a deal that is expected to smash the British transfer record.

British newspapers said a move for the 26-year-old is likely to cost more than the £50 million Chelsea paid Liverpool for Spain striker Fernando Torres in 2011.

Di Maria cost Real £20 million from Benfica in 2010 and he was a key part of the team that won the club's 10th European Cup last term but he has since fallen out of favour and was omitted from the squad for the Spanish Super Cup this week.

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Image: Angel Di Maria
Photographs: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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No. 7 shirt for Di Maria

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The Argentine, who looked strong in pre-season after suffering a thigh injury in the World Cup quarter-finals which forced him out of the tournament, has turned down a new deal at the Bernabeu having been linked with the Premier League.

The Daily Mail reported that Di Maria had already spoken with United manager Louis van Gaal about his likely role and said he was expected to be given the iconic number seven shirt worn by George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham.

United declined to comment on the reports.


Image: Angel di Maria
Photographs: Paul Sanders/Reuters

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