Swimming: Paltrinieri turns 1,500m freestyle into race for silver

Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:27pm EDT
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By Mark Bendeich and Mark Trevelyan

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy won the Olympic gold medal in the 1,500 meters freestyle on Saturday after dominating throughout the race with a relentless display of technique and endurance in the longest event in the pool.

Connor Jaeger of the United States took the silver, and Italy's Gabriele Detti won bronze after overhauling Jordan Wilimovsky of the U.S. in the closing stages. But the winner never seemed in doubt after world champion Paltrinieri took the lead at 150 meters and wore down the rest of the field.

"It's incredible. Really. I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a child and it's amazing," the 21-year-old said.

"There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders. Italian people really wanted this gold and it was more difficult than I expected."

Having been on track through most of the race to beat the world record, he eased off slightly to clock 14 minutes, 34.57 seconds, 3.55 seconds outside the mark of 14:31.02 set by Chinese swimmer Sun Yang in London in 2012.

The winning margin was 4.91 seconds.

"At a certain point he just took off and I thought maybe I could try to hang with him but I couldn't," silver medalist Jaeger said.

"And then you have to hope -'Like man, I hope he is going fast, because otherwise I am really going pretty slow.'"   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Final - Men's 1500m Freestyle Final - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 13/08/2016. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) of Italy reacts after winning the gold.  REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler