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Hosszu lives up to enormous expectations – Peaty, Sjostrom roar to victories at worlds

BUDAPEST, Hungary, July 24, (AP): With Katie Ledecky getting the night off, Hungary’s Iron Lady seized the moment Monday at the world championships. Katinka Hosszu lived up to her country’s enormous expectations with an electrifying victory in the 200-meter individual medley, spurred on by a flag-waving, foot-stomping crowd at Duna Arena. The new 12,000-seat aquatic facility along the Danube was packed all the way to the rafters, and it was clear who most of the fans came to see. Hosszu didn’t let them down.

She led from start to finish in the race encompassing all four swimming strokes, finishing off with the freestyle and a time of 2 minutes, 7.00 seconds. It was nearly a second slower than her world-record performance at the Rio Olympics last summer but enough to hold off hard-charging Yui Ohashi of Japan, who settled for silver in 2:07.91.

The bronze went to Madisyn Cox of the United States in 2:09.71, just ahead of teammate Melanie Margolis. After touching the wall, Hosszu pounded the water, stuck out her tongue and climbed atop a lane rope to acknowledge the raucous crowd. Her husband and coach, Shane Tusup, pumped his fists and led out a guttural scream. Hosszu popped out of the water and ran around the deck to embrace Tusup, who handed her a red cap emblazoned with the nickname she received a few years ago for her grueling repertoire of events.

Hosszu wasn’t the only big name to claim gold on the second night of swimming. Britain’s Adam Peaty romped to victory in the 100-meter breaststroke, while Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom just missed breaking her own world record in the 100 butterfly. After claiming two golds on Sunday, Ledecky’s lone race Monday was the morning preliminaries of the 1,500 freestyle. She breezed through the grueling event in 15:47.57 — nearly 18 seconds faster than second-fastest qualifier Mireia Belmonte of Spain. The final is Tuesday night.

“It felt good,” Ledecky said. “I know how to manage the schedule. I just kind of have to work through the prelims as easy as I can to keep myself rested.” Now sporting a massive lion tattoo on his left arm, Peaty made the turn under his world-record pace from Rio but faded a bit on the return lap to touch in 57.47. The unquestioned breaststroke king missed his mark of 57.13 yet still turned in the second-fastest time ever in the event. His ultimate goal is to become the first breaststroker to break the 57-second barrier, a quest he has dubbed “Project 56.” “I’ve a few more 57 races to get down to 56, but I’m just going to follow that curve now and see where I can go,” he said.

The silver went to Kevin Cordes of the United States at 58.79 and Russia’s Kirill Prigoda claimed the bronze (59.05). American Cody Miller, the bronze medalist in Rio, finished fifth. Having already set a world record with her leadoff leg in the 4×100 freestyle relay, Sjostrom nearly took down another mark in the fly with a winning time of 55.53. That was just 0.05 seconds off her gold-medal triumph at Rio. When Sjostrom saw the time on the scoreboard, she covered her mouth in surprise.

“It felt like I was going a bit slower than I did yesterday actually, so maybe butterfly is about being all relaxed and then you can be even faster,” said Sjostrom, who didn’t look at all tired a day after racing four times. Australia’s Emma McKeon (56.18) grabbed the silver and Kelsi Worrell of the US (56.37) settled for bronze. Seventeen-year-old Canadian Penny Oleksiak, a breakout star in Rio with four medals, finished fourth.

Britain earned another gold when Benjamin Proud touched first at 22.79 in the men’s 50 butterfly, a non-Olympic event. Brazil’s Nicolas Santos took the silver (22.84) and Ukraine’s Andrii Govorov grabbed the bronze (22.84) just ahead of American Caeleb Dressel, who came into the final as the fastest qualifier.

“It wasn’t about winning because I knew five people in the race had the opportunity to win,” Proud said. “Fortunately for me I managed to put my race together, handled my time and it came out quite well. It’s a weird feeling because it’s something I’ve been dreaming about for six or seven years.”

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LOS ANGELES: Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian of modern times, has finally met his match in a swim-off against the greatest predator in the oceans, the great white shark. But many viewers of the Discovery Channel’s much-publicized race between man and beast found the result to be a little fishy.

Touted as “Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White,” the face-off in the chilly, shark-rich waters off South Africa was the launchpad for the channel’s annual Shark Week series of shows. Phelps, who has won 28 Olympic medals including 23 golds, noted before the event that his safety was the number one priority going into the race, and said before the broadcast that he did not actually enter the water with the shark he was racing.

Instead, the film crew shot footage of a shark speeding along the same stretch of water as Phelps, who swam the course at a different time under the supervision of marine experts and divers. The filmmakers used special effects to splice the two together, so it looked as though the American swimmer was racing alongside the huge predator.

Despite being fitted with a special monofin to help propel him through the water, Phelps lost by two seconds to the shark, which put on a final spurt as it closed in on a seal. After his narrow defeat, Phelps demanded a rematch. “Next time … warmer water,” the 32-year-old champion wrote on Twitter. Many viewers of the show also took to social media to express their disappointment, having apparently believed Phelps would actually be racing a shark in real time.

“Call me crazy but I thought they were gonna put Phelps up against a real shark not a simulation. I feel robbed,” said a Twitter user who goes by Meg Conley. Another scornful Twitter user posted footage of a cartoon shark dancing with the caption “Live footage of Shark getting ready to wipe the floor with Michael Phelps.” Others, however, expressed surprise that anyone would have believed a real one-on-one between man and shark would have been possible.

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