Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri wins Rio 1,500m final, pouring cold water on supposed Sun-Horton showdown

Chinese ace didn’t even make the final, while Aussie finished disappointing fifth

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 11:52am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 9:00pm

Italy’s star swimmer Gregorio Paltrinieri took his team’s first Rio swimming gold in 1,500 metres freestyle, threatening the world record held by China’s swimming hero Sun Yang and beating Sun’s Australian rival Mack Horton.

Although Sun did not make it to the finals, claiming he was affected by a feverish cold, the race was closely watched by people in China because Horton, who earlier described the Chinese swimmer as a “drug cheat”, took part.

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The Italian champion clocked 14 minutes, 34.57 seconds, threatening Sun’ world record of 14:31.02.

US swimmer Connor Jaeger won silver with a time of 14:39.48, while another Italian swimmer Gabriele Detti took bronze, clocking 14:40.86.

Horton finished in fifth place, clocking 14:49.54.

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“Lots of ups and downs, the team, but I think everyone handled it very well,” Horton said after the race. “This is what a team looks like.”

Horton also said that Paltrinieri was a good friend of his who deserved the gold medal.

“Anything I’d like to tell Sun Yang? Not really,” he added.

Tensions have been running high between Horton and Sun after the Australian swimmer called Sun a “drug cheat”, referring to his three-month suspension in 2014 for taking a drug the Chinese said was to treat a heart condition.

The 24-year-old Chinese superstar later declared to Horton that he was the “king” of the 1,500m freestyle event.

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Eventually, Sun did not make it to the finals and Horton also missed out on a medal.

The Italian gold medallist said:“It’s amazing. I have dreamed of this medal ever since I was a child. I mean a gold medal, it was more difficult than I expected because it’s an Olympic final. It was tough but I’m very excited. The gold medal is amazing.”

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