Katie Ledecky of the USA reacts after competing in the women's 400m Freestyle Heats during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, Photo: EPA/Patrick B. Kraemer

GWANGJU – Katie Ledecky withdrew from the 200 metres freestyle and will miss her 1,500 title defence at the world swimming championships later on Tuesday due to illness, USA Swimming said.

Ledecky, who won Olympic gold in the 200, 400 and 800 in Rio, had been feeling under the weather since arriving in South Korea last week, it added.

The 22-year-old had been a heavy favourite to win her fourth straight 400 world title in Gwangju but was stunned by Australia's Ariarne Titmus on Sunday.

“A decision has been made by Team USA in consultation with Katie, her coach and the team’s medical staff for her to withdraw from the 200-meter freestyle event on medical grounds,” said the statement.

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“Katie has not been feeling well since arriving to Gwangju on July 17 and these precautionary measures are being taken to ensure her well-being and proper recovery, and to allow her to focus her energy on an abbreviated schedule.”

USA Swimming later said she had withdrawn from the 1,500. There was no word on whether she would be well enough to compete in the 800 later in the week.

Ledecky, who has 14 world titles to her name, is scheduled to swim all four events at the 2020 Tokyo Games after the 1,500 was added to the Olympic programme.

Reuters