Ariarne Titmus breathes sigh of relief after victory in 400m freestyle. Photo: olympic.com.au

Ariarne Titmus has beaten USA's Katie Ledecky to win gold in the Women's 400 metre freestyle

Ariarne Titmus has drawn first blood against USA’s Katie Ledecky in the 400-metre freestyle final to win Australia’s second gold medal of the Games, winning by 0.67 seconds. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

Coming into the Games the pair was the most talked about rivalry in the pool, due to the fact this would be the first time the pair competed against each other in an Olympic Games.

The pair had last raced against each other in 2019, where Titmus was crowned the World Champion.

With a World Championship and an Olympic gold split between them in the event, everyone was waiting with anticipation in what would be the pairs premier event.

Who is Ariarne Titmus?

Titmus is a 20-year-old, Tasmanian born middle distance freestyle swimmer who has been very successful in her short career to date.

She claimed a bronze medal in her first World Championship in 2017, in the 4×200 metre freestyle relay and finishing fourth in the 400-metre freestyle event.

In 2018, she competed at the World Short Course Championship and won three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.

In 2019, she won the 400-metre freestyle event in her second World Championship.

Tokyo 2020 is her Olympics debut and she will also compete in the 200-metre and the 800-metre women’s freestyle events at the Games.

Tokyo 2020 path to gold: The Heats

Titmus breezed through her heat, beating out New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather to advance to the final, with a time of 4:01.66.

Despite winning her heat Titmus missed out on the golden lanes, with her time falling behind Ledecky and Bingjie Li of China.

The stage was still set for a face-off between Ledecky and Titmus with the pair lining up next to each other in lanes three and four.

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The Final

Through the first 200 metres Ledecky showed her strength, leading comfortably to the halfway mark.

It was in the final 200 metres, however, that Titmus showed her class. As they neared the final 100 metres she pulled up next to Ledecky and with 50 metres to go Titmus led by 0.22 seconds and powered away from Ledecky in the last 25 metres.


What comes next?

This won’t be the only time the pair go head-to-head in Tokyo with the 200-metre and 800-metre freestyle events still to come in the schedule.

With the 400-metre event being both ladies best event it will be interesting to see how they will travel in the next two events.

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