Katie Ledecky Olympics 2012: 15-Year-Old Shows Amazing Potential with 800m Gold

Chris HummerAnalyst IAugust 4, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Gold medallist Katie Ledecky of the United States poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

One year ago Katie Ledecky was barely old enough to compete at the Olympics. Now at the ancient age of 15, she is a gold medalist in the 800-meter freestyle.

Ledecky shocked the world on Friday with her victory in the 800, outracing a field that included defending Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington of Britain, among others, in a time of eight minutes, 15.63 seconds.

Actually, she even surprised herself. Via Beth Harris of The Washington Times:

“I didn’t really expect gold, but I’ll take it,” she said with a huge smile.

Her smile lit up the broadcast. Americans should get used to her high-voltage grin too, because Ledecky has unlimited potential.

At 15 years old, Ledecky was already the youngest swimmer on the team, but now she's also the youngest gold medalist. Actually, she's the second-youngest American woman to win gold in any sport.

Crazy thing is, four years from now she will still be a teenager.

At only 19 years old she will have the opportunity to defend her title. But that's only the tip of the iceberg, Ledecky could become a superstar in multiple disciplines.

As she gets older, she will only get bigger, stronger and wiser, which will add to her already-incredibly consistent freestyle stroke.

Ledecky will also have time to develop speed in shorter distances and the ability to excel with the other strokes.

This means when the games head to Rio in 2016, Ledecky could be swimming multiple events. If she shows the poise and speed she displayed on Friday, she could be capturing medals in numerous events

Plus, she'll be able to compete in the Olympics well beyond 2016. Actually, when the 2024 games rolls around, she'll only be 27.

This gives her plenty of time to develop as a star, and to nurture her natural gifts in the pool.

Ledecky, along with teenage sensation Missy Franklin, have set the pool ablaze with their success at such a young age. Moving forward, they each have the potential to become bona fide superstars.

More importantly, each could potentially fill the void Michael Phelps is leaving in the pool as he competes in his last Olympics.

But for now, Ledecky is heading back to school. High school that is, she's only entering her sophomore year.

Anyone else feel old?