TOKYO — Katie Ledecky concluded her Tokyo Olympics with another gold medal in an event she has dominated her entire career, the 800-meter freestyle.
She clocked in at 8 minutes 12.57 seconds, ahead of Ariarne Titmus of Australia and Simona Quadarella of Italy.
Ledecky will depart Tokyo with two gold medals (the other in the 1,500 free) and two silver medals. She finished fifth in the 200 free.
“It’s awesome,’’ she told NBC after the race. “I just wanted to finish on a really great note. That was not my last swim.” She said she’s aiming for the 2024 (Paris) and 2028 (Los Angeles) Games.
Ledecky already held the Olympic and world record in the event, established at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Back then, she swam it in a blistering 8:04.79, winning by nearly 12 seconds. In Rio, it was the last of her four gold medals, to go with one silver.
But this is a different Ledecky and a different time. She remains the slight favorite, and her qualifying time of 8:15.67 would have still won in Brazil five years ago. She was not expected to swim away from the competition this time, and her biggest challenge looked to come from the teammate next to her, 15-year-old Katie Grimes — an heir apparent, perhaps, in some of Ledecky’s best events.
Ledecky came to Tokyo having not lost a major final in this event since she emerged as a 15-year-old. She owned 24 of the 25 fastest times in history. If she went under 8:14.10, she would have all 25.
It also ends, for now, the small rivalry with Australia’s Ariarne Titmus. She beat Ledecky in two other individual events here, the 200 free (where Ledecky was fifth) and the 400 free (Ledecky earned silver, missing gold by 0.67 seconds).