2020 Tokyo Olympics: Katie Ledecky Wins Gold in First-Ever Women’s 1500m Free

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Xavier Laine/Getty Images

More history is being made at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Team USA swimmer Katie Ledecky, considered by many as one of the greatest female swimmers of all time, won the gold in the first-ever women’s 1500-meter free race. Right beside her, another U.S. swimmer, Erica Sullivan, got the silver. Sarah Kohler from Germany took home the bronze medal.

Ledecky Wins Gold at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Ledecky touched the wall with a total time of 15 minutes and 37.39 seconds.

This is Katie Ledecky’s very first gold medal of the 2020 Olympics. It is now the sixth gold medal of her career. She has eight medals total. Ledecky also won silver in the 400-meter freestyle earlier in the Games.

It was an emotional moment when Ledecky emerged from the water and glanced over at the standings board. She instantly launched herself over the rope and gave her teammate a massive hug. She screamed in the direction of the American cheering section, although it was mostly empty.

Then, right as the waterworks are sure to happen, she throws on her goggles and exits the pool.

She’s been neck and neck with Ariarne Titmus, called Australia’s “Terminator,” in the pool. The two are tied 2 and 2 when Titmus won the 200-meter freestyle. This was the first time that Ledecky did not win a medal at all in an Olympic race she was a part of.

Titmus and Ledecky are two of the biggest stars in the pool this year. Titmus set an Olympic record of 1:53.50 for the 200 freestyle event.

Katie Ledecky on Pressure of Olympics

Ledecky, however, is more than understanding that winning every race isn’t something she expects to do.

“I think people maybe feel bad for me that I’m not winning everything and whatever, but I want people to be more concerned about other things going on in the world, people that are truly suffering. I’m just proud to bring home a gold medal to Team USA,” Ledecky said to ESPN.

For Olympic athletes, a massive amount of the burden at the Games is learning to cope with the pressure. As millions of people watch from all around the world, there’s an incredibly heavy weight on each athlete’s shoulder to reach excellence.

“I feel like I handle the pressure. The biggest pressure I have is the pressure I put on myself, and I feel like I’ve gotten past that over the years. I truly just want to enjoy this experience,” Ledecky said.

To finish out this week, Ledecky is racing in the 800-meter heats on July 29th and is then taking part in the 800-meter finals the next day.

Ledecky again addressed the pressure of Olympic athletes. It’s a key topic, especially as star gymnast Simone Biles just dropped out of the team competition and then the individual all-around competitions later this week.

“I literally approach each race with a belief that I can swim a best time, and that’s pretty darned tough. But that’s why I’ve been so successful over the years, because I approach every single race with the attitude that anything can happen, and I can break world records this race. I’m going to step up and throw down,” Ledecky said at a press conference.