Australia

Titmus books another showdown with Ledecky in Tokyo, McKeown through to backstroke semis

Ariarne Titmus and Australian teammate Kiah Melverton have advanced to the women’s 800 metres freestyle final in Tokyo, where they will face the massive task of beating firm favourite Katie Ledecky.

Meanwhile, Australia’s 100m backstroke gold medallist Kaylee McKeown reached the semi-finals of the 200m backstroke after comfortably progressing from the heats.

Matthew Temple qualified for the men’s 100m butterfly semi-finals and Australia moved through to the final of the mixed 4x100m medley relay — making its Olympic debut in Tokyo — after finishing second to China in its heat.

Titmus, who has already won gold in the 200m and 400m freestyle, qualified for her third individual final with a heat swim of 8 minutes and 18.99 seconds.

She finished second to the ROC’s Anastasia Kirpichnikova (8:18.77) in their preliminary, with Melverton third in 8:20.45.

The Australians are the sixth and seventh-fastest qualifiers for the final.

Ttimus was competing after leading off Australia’s bronze-medal winning 4x200m freestyle quartet earlier in the day.

She won bronze in the event at the 2019 world titles but toppling two-time Olympic 800m freestyle champion Ledecky in Saturday’s final will be no easy matter.

The mixed 4x100m medley relay is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo.(

Getty Images: Tom Pennington

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Ledecky owns the world and Olympic record of 8:04.79 — set in Rio five years ago — and she led qualifying for the Tokyo decider with a time of 8:15.67.

The American has recorded the 24 fastest times in the event’s history. She has already won the 1,500m freestyle gold at the Games, in addition to finishing second to Titmus in the 400m freestyle final, and picking up silver with the United States in the 4x200m freestyle.

McKeown returned to the pool in Tokyo two days after winning the 100m backstroke final in an Olympic record.

She won her heat of the 200m backstroke in 2:08.18 to be the fastest qualifier for Friday’s semi-finals.

McKeown claimed the silver medal in the longer backstroke event at the 2019 world championships.

Her fellow Queenslander Emily Seebohm, who was the 2015 and 2017 world champion in the 200m backstroke, also went through to the semi-finals.

Seebohm swam 2:09.10 to finish second in her heat.


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