Ledecky gets third gold, Franklin a first in Rio

Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:38am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Freestyle queen Katie Ledecky won her third gold medal of the Rio Olympics by anchoring the U.S. women to victory in the 4x200 metres freestyle relay on Wednesday while struggling Missy Franklin opened her account without being in the water for the final.

Australia, who led until Ledecky dived in and turned the race around, took silver and Canada the bronze.

The U.S. were the defending champions but only veteran Allison Schmitt, who swam the leadoff leg in Rio, was in the race lineup from that London 2012 golden quartet that also beat Australia into second place.

Leah Smith and Maya DiRado swam second and third respectively before Ledecky, who won the 400 freestyle on Sunday and 200 free on Tuesday, brought home the gold with a typically powerful swim from behind.

Franklin, who won four golds in London four years ago but suffered a dramatic loss of form at the U.S. trials, swam in the heats and collected a gold for doing so despite being dropped for the final.

So too did Melanie Margalis and Cierra Runge.

"It's such a great honour to be a part of a USA relay team," said Ledecky, still only 19 but the outstanding female swimmer on the U.S. team.

"I think I was prepared for any circumstance, whether we were ahead or behind. I just knew that these three girls were going to put me in a good position to finish it out and I knew I could do it," she added.   Continued...

USA's Katie Ledecky, Maya DiRado, Leah Smith and Allison Schmitt celebrate winning gold.  REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci