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‘It’s anyone’s race’: Titmus aiming to emulate Gould in second Ledecky showdown

“It’s always great racing Katie,” Titmus said on Tuesday. “But I think the 200m, it’s not just Katie and I. It’s a very, very strong field. It’s anyone’s race tomorrow.

“To make it through … the semi-finals were always going to be very quick.”

Ariarne Titmus after her 400m freestyle victory.

Ariarne Titmus after her 400m freestyle victory. Credit:Getty Images

Titmus, fresh off her 400m victory that captivated the nation, said her sleeping pattern had been slightly off.

“[At 3am] I was back in my room for about two hours,” she said. “I tried to have a bit of a snooze and relax. I felt a little bit sluggish … but it was just about getting through [the semi-finals].”

She is aiming to become the first Australian female since Shane Gould to win the 200-400 double at an Olympics.

Gould had an incredible campaign in Munich 1972, where she won three golds, a silver and a bronze.

Fifteen-year-old Shane Gould shows off her five medals from the 1972 Olympics.

Fifteen-year-old Shane Gould shows off her five medals from the 1972 Olympics.Credit:Russell McPhedran

The only other Australian woman to win the 200m freestyle event was Susie O’Neill in Sydney.

It is fitting that O’Neill, Australia’s deputy chef de mission, will be in Tokyo to witness Titmus challenge Ledecky.

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Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey could also pose a threat from lane five.

Titmus trailed Ledecky at the 200-metre mark in their energy-sapping 400m final on Monday but the Australian is better suited to shorter distances.

However, just over an hour after her 200m final, Ledecky will return for the 1500m final, where she is almost an unbackable favourite in the event’s Olympics debut.

Ledecky was gracious in defeat after her 400m loss but if she is upstaged by Titmus once again, a competitor she barely acknowledged in the lead-up to the Games, the goodwill might dissipate.

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