Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

World mark, first gold at Games for 'Iron Lady'

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Katinka Hosszu finally won her first Olympic medal — and set a world record for good measure.

The Hungarian star, known as "The Iron Lady" for her grueling race schedule, crushed the record in the women's 400-meter individual medley final Saturday night. She led all the way and touched in 4 minutes, 26.36 seconds, easily eclipsing the record of 4:28.43 held by China's Ye Shiwen.

Hosszu had time to turn toward the scoreboard and savor her triumph before Maya DiRado of the United States touched in 4:31.15 to take the silver medal. Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain claimed the bronze in 4:32.39.

This triumph was especially sweet for Hosszu, who had captured nine medals — including five golds — at the World Championships but never won an Olympic medal.

American Elizabeth Beisel, a former Gator and the silver medalist at the 2012 Games, finished sixth.

Led by quite a sister act, Australia set the second world record of the night, in the 400 freestyle relay to beat an American squad anchored by Katie Ledecky.

Simone Manuel and Abbey Weitzeil put the United States ahead at the midway point, but Bronte and Cate Campbell were too strong on the final two legs. Younger sister Bronte surged past American Dana Vollmer before handing off to Cate, who pulled away from Ledecky to win in 3 minutes, 30.65 seconds, breaking the mark of 3:30.98 the Aussies set two years ago.

The United States settled for silver in an American-record time of 3:31.89, extending a gold medal drought in the event that goes back to the 1996 Games.

Canada took the bronze in 3:32.89.

The relay victory came on the heels of Mack Horton's win in the men's 400 freestyle, capping an impressive first night for an Australian team that captured only one swimming gold medal four years ago.

Horton grabbed the lead for good on the next-to-last lap and held off hard-charging defending champion Sun Yang of China, but what happened after the race was more dramatic.

The bad blood between the two was on display as Horton celebrated without even acknowledging the runnerup. They climbed out of the pool side by side without so much as a passing glance.

After the preliminaries earlier in the day, Horton was asked about an incident between the two at the practice pool earlier in the week. He said Yang "splashed me to say hello, and I didn't respond because I don't have time for drug cheats."

Yang served a three-month suspension for using a banned stimulant in 2014.

Said Horton after the final: "I don't know if it's a rivalry between me and (Yang), just me and athletes who have tested positive, I guess."

Japan's Kosuke Hagino ended the United States' dominance in the men's 400 IM, holding off American Chase Kalisz to win gold. Japan's Daiya Seto grabbed the bronze.

Hagino became the first non-American to win since Hungary's Tamas Darnyi in 1992. Ryan Lochte was the defending champion, but he finished third at the U.S. trials and didn't qualify for the event. Michael Phelps was the champion in 2004 and 2008, but he has dropped the race from his program. Tom Dolan was back-to-back champion in 1996 and 2000.

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