Italy wins its first 1500 freestyle gold, as Mack Horton fades to fifth

Australia’s Mack Horton. Photo: AFP / Fran├žois-Xavier Marit / Getty Images

Australia’s Mack Horton has missed out on a medal in the 1500m freestyle after going into the race as favourite with rival Sun Yang withdrawing.

Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri set the early running, moving at world record pace before fading slightly in the final 100m to win 3 seconds behind the record with a time of 14.34.57.

Horton set off in sixth place, moved into second as the race headed to the 500m mark, before dropping back to fourth 200m later, beside the Americans Connor Jaeger and Jordan Wilimovsky.

Jaeger finished with the silver and Italy’s Gabriele Detti took the bronze, six seconds behind his compatriot.

At the 1000m mark, Paltrinieri was 1.5 seconds ahead of the world record time.

Horton struggled as the Italian extended his lead with the Americans giving chase, dropping back to sixth. He finished in fifth place.

Horton’s 14.49 was 10 seconds outside his best time.

After the race he told Channel 7 he’d not been well.

“My body’s been on the edge of sick for the last couple of days and I’ve been trying to hold it together,” he said, adding that he felt “maxxed out” after the 4 x 200m race.

The race had been expected to be a showdown in the rivalry between Horton and China’s Sun Yang, which boiled over last week after Horton won the 400m gold over Yang. After that race, Horton made two references to Yang’s suspension for doping back in 2014, using the words “drug cheat”. This unleashed a tirade of online abuse from Chinese swimming fans, and even comment from Chinese state media.

But Yang fell ill in the intervening days and made a shock exit in the 1500m heats.

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