Katie Ledecky: Michael Phelps' race "really got me pumped"

Katie Ledecky reacts after she won gold in the women's 800m freestyle final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 3, 2012. Getty

(CBS/AP) The Olympic fever spread quickly to 15-year-old swimmer, Katie Ledecky, on Friday.

She narrowly missed a world record in the grueling race, falling off pace on the last lap and finishing in 8 minutes, 14.63 seconds. Ledecky, though, still ended up winning the Olympic gold medal in the women's 800 freestyle on Friday.

Wins by fellow U.S. swimmers Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin helped inspire Ledecky, who was the youngest of the 529 U.S. athletes at the 2012 London Games.

"Michael's and Missy's races really got me pumped," Ledecky said. "I really wanted to see what i could do to represent the U.S."

Complete Coverage: 2012 London Olympics

Ledecky seemingly came out of nowhere to claim a spot on the U.S. team, and she nearly took out a world record in her first Olympics. She was ahead of Becky Adlington's record pace (8:14.10) from the Beijing Olympics until right at the end, finally tiring just a bit for a time of 8:14.63.

Not to worry. The teenager still has plenty of time to go faster. Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain was far behind for silver in 8:18.76, while Adlington held on to take bronze at 8:20.32.

There was no catching Ledecky.

"At one point I thought I could be close to the world record," she told The Washington Post. "[Then I thought,] 'I don't even care, just get to the wall first.'"

Ledecky settled for crushing a hallowed American record, Janet Evans' mark of 8:16.22 set in Tokyo on Aug. 20, 1989 - nearly eight years before Ledecky was born.

"I figured I was going pretty fast," the teenager said.

After the race, it was time for Ledecky's fellow swimmers to send their congratulations:

  • CBS News Staff

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