2012 OLYMPICS: PHELPS’ RECORD 19 OLYMPIC MEDALS
By Maloney L. Samaco
Wed, 01 Aug 2012
American swimmer Michael Phelps equaled Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina’s 18 Olympic medals following his win in the 200m butterfly. But the medal he got was only a silver as he was beaten to the touch at the finish by South African Chad le Clos who won the gold medal.
The 27-year-old tanker from Baltimore then anchored the United States 4 x 200m freestyle relay quartet to win the gold medal and had history now on his side with 19 medals. Phelps now has won 15 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals. He has three races remaining and could retire with 22 Olympic medals.
“I thanked those guys for helping get to this moment,” said Phelps referring to his relay teammates. “I told those guys I wanted a big lead in the last leg and they gave it to me. I just wanted to hold on, I just wanted to thank them for allowing me to have this moment.”
Phelps had more than a two second lead when he took his turn as the relay anchor. The Americans won with 6:59.70, more than three seconds faster than second placer France. Ryan Lochte swam the first leg, followed by Conor Dwyer, Ricky Berens, then Phelps.
In the 200m butterfly, Phelps finished 0.05 second behind le Clos, who shouted in jubilation after beating his idol. Le Clos won in 1:52.96 and pulled ahead in the final meters. He was emotional at the podium and still could not believe his achievement.
The 200 fly race was harshly similar to the 100 fly in 2008 in Beijing, when Phelps narrowly edged Serbian Milorad Cavic, touching the finish with just a 0.01 second lead.
"Obviously I would have liked to have a better outcome in the 200 fly," Phelps said. "You know, I was on the receiving end of being touched out. Chad swam a great race. I have got to know him over the last year, he is a hard worker, a fast racer and a tough competitor. I would have liked to have won my last race, but it wasn't a terrible time. It was decent.”
"This is a dream of mine, I have always said Michael Phelps was my hero," declared le Clos. “I wanted to be in the final for my main event, I achieved that goal and my coach said you have done all you have to do. But I just remember sitting in the call room thinking that Michael Phelps has never lost this race for 10 years in international meets"
Still he could not believe he has beaten his hero. “I remember turning in the last 50 and just looking at him underwater and realizing this is my hero, it's crazy. I can't describe how I felt. In the last 25 meters, I can't explain what came over me. I'll have to try and defend my title in four years time, but to beat Michael Phelps is something I have wanted my whole life, it is exactly what I have been dreaming off since I was 12.”
Phelps, 27, won the 200m butterfly in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 and no male Olympian had won an individual event in three consecutive Games. Just two women have won it, namely Australia's Dawn Fraser and Hungary's Krisztina Egerszegi.
Phelps failed in his attempt to win three consecutive Olympic golds in the 400m individual medley, finishing fourth only. He will have two other chances at the Olympic triple gold in the 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley.
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