She has done it. Ariarne Titmus has beaten the greatest female swimmer in history, Katie Ledecky of the United States, in a moment that will go down in Olympic immortality.
Ledecky is the closest women’s swimming comes to Michael Phelps, a phenomenal athlete who has never been beaten in individual events at the Olympics – until now. But her 20 Olympic and world championship titles were no defence to the remorseless attack of ‘The Terminator’, as Titmus stalked her for 350m of the 400m freestyle final before pulling away down the final stretch.
Only Ledecky’s world and Olympic record of 3:56.46 survived the Australian’s onslaught and Australian Record of 3:56.69 but never has it been more obvious that record, even world records are temporary. An Olympic title is forever.
It was the first individual gold by an Australian at these Games and the rivalry will continue as she and Ledecky will bump heads repeatedly in the coming days in other freestyle events. But this was the one Titmus always wanted.
She had scored an historic victory over Ledecky in the 400m freestyle at the 2019 World Championships but the American shortly after complained that she was unwell and scaled down her program. At that point, the 20-year-old Brisbane-based Tasmanian refused to consider she had bettered Ledecky. Now there is no reason why Titmus, with the world and Olympic titles now in her keeping, should not consider herself the queen of middle-distance freestyling.
Her coach Dean Boxall was out of his seat throughout the race, out of control. And why wouldn’t he be? The two of them have plotted this moment for years and have practiced her race until she could do it in her sleep. “Dean means everything to me,” said Titmus. “We knew exactly what we had to. We have practised this for so long.”
For the full wrap of this morning’s action from the pool, visit the AOC’s website.