LONDON – Katie Ledecky of the United States led all the way to win the gold medal in the women’s swimming 800m freestyle Friday, winning in the second fastest time in history.
The 15-year-old touched home in 8min 14.63sec ahead of Mireia Belmonte Garcia (8:18.76) of Spain in silver and Rebecca Adlington (8:20.32) of Great Britain with bronze.
Ledecky’s time was second only to Adlington’s world record (8:14.10), set when she won the Olympic title in Beijing four years ago.
“I just wanted to see how I could do to represent the US and it’s amazing,” said first-time Olympian Ledecky.
Ledecky said she received a good luck wish from superstar teammate Michael Phelps before the race.
“Michael is the first Olympian I ever met before I started swimming at the US Nationals in 2002 or 2003 in Maryland, so to get a good luck before the race really calmed me down and I was ready to swim my race,” she said.
“I figured I was going pretty fast, I figured if I get close to this world record, I don’t really care, I just want to get my hand on the wall and see what the time is.
“It is amazing to be here with so many great swimmers from the US, it has really inspired all of us.
“I have just been setting a lot of short and long-term goals and swimming my butt off.”
Adlington, who chased the American youngster home, broke down in tears as the home crowd chanted ‘Becky, Becky’ as she received her bronze medal on the podium.
“It was tough for me. I am not disappointed. That is nothing to be ashamed of,” she said.
“Everyone expected me to get a gold medal. I am so proud. I have been in four Olympic finals and got four medals, so that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I was disappointed with the time.
“Obviously, this is the one (800m gold) that I was more passionate about, the one I wanted to race.
“The pressure has just been hard over the last few years and having to deal with it.”