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Horihata takes bronze in 400-meter individual medley

Kyodo, AP

Yuya Horihata claimed the bronze medal in the men’s 400-meter individual medley in a national-record time on the final day of the world swimming championships in Shanghai on Sunday.

Horihata, who had his 21st birthday the previous day, clocked 4 minutes, 11.98 seconds, while Ryan Lochte grabbed his fifth gold medal of the championships, leading the United States to a 1-2 finish with a time of 4:07.13.

Lochte added to his 200 individual medley gold in finishing over four seconds ahead of compatriot Tyler Clary, who took the silver in 4:11.17.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Horihata. “I knew Lochte would streak ahead and was just trying to catch up with Clary. I just swam for my life at the end.”

“Laszlo Cseh and Thiago Pereira weren’t in the final so I thought I would have a chance and really wanted to seize it. I just kept going until the end. Luck was on my side,” he said.

Hungary’s Cseh failed to advance past the preliminary round, while Brazil’s Pereira did not start. The two had been expected to be in medal contention.

The bronze was Japan’s first medal in the distance at either a world championships or Olympics.

Emerging Chinese standout Sun Yang broke the oldest world record in swimming — Australian great Grant Hackett’s 10-year-old mark in the 1,500 meters.

Sun was more than two seconds off Hackett’s pace with four laps to go, but accelerated on the final two laps to finish in 14 minutes, 34.14 seconds, improving on Hackett’s mark of 14:34.56 set at the 2001 worlds in Fukuoka.

“I was not obsessed with the world record before the final, because I wanted to focus on my plan,” Sun said. “My goal is to win the gold. I’m so grateful to the whole Chinese team, including my coach and my parents as well, and I think the world record belongs to all of them.”

Fifth-place finisher Chad La Tourette of the U.S. said he was “just happy to be a part of it.”

“I knew he was going to be close at the 800,” La Tourette added. “That was a fantastic swim and it really just kind of sets himself apart as a once-in-a-generation type swimmer like Grant was.”

The crowd at the Oriental Sports Center provided loud support over the final laps, erupting into more joy when the clock stopped four-tenths of a second inside Hackett’s mark.

“That’s a (great) record there,” said another American, Peter Vanderkaay, who placed sixth. “I heard the crowd get into it the last 100, 200, so I knew he had to be close. That’s an amazing swim. I tip my hat to him.”

It was only the second world record to fall in swimming since high-tech bodysuits were banned 19 months ago — and Hackett’s record had been the only mark to withstand the record deluge during the polyurethane era of 2008 and 2009.

Michael Phelps, meanwhile, finished with four golds after pushing the Americans in front during the butterfly leg in the 4×100 medley relay. Nathan Adrian held off a late comeback attempt by Australia’s James Magnussen in the anchor leg.

The Americans won in 3:32.06, Australia took silver in 3:32.26 and Germany got bronze in 3:32.60. Japan finished fourth.

Lochte wasn’t included on the U.S. squad for the final relay of the meet.