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Michael Phelps won the 200-meter individual medley for his first individual gold of the London Games, becoming the first male swimmer to win the same individual event in three straight Olympics
The final duel in London between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte ended with Phelps taking his first individual gold medal of these Games. His victory in the 200-meter individual medley also gave him an Olympic three-peat. Lochte earned the silver 63-hundredths of a second later, capping his third Olympic Games with five medals in six events.
"It was a hard race," Lochte said of his 1:54.90 effort. "Right now I'm exhausted, but I'll take it."
Both men were doing double-duty. Phelps admitted that the sequence of events might have given him an edge.
"I may have been lucky that Ryan had a 200 backstroke 30 minutes beforehand," he said.
After Lochte claimed bronze in that race behind teammate Tyler Clary and runner-up Irie Ryosuke of Japan, Lochte only had 15 minutes to prep for the 200 individual medley. The interval was so brief that he cooled down in the adjacent diving pool.
Once the race was underway, Phelps maintained the lead at every turn. But when he touched the wall in 1:54.27, his time was four-hundredths of a second slower than his Olympic record in Beijing.
"Obviously, it's a relief to win an individual gold," Phelps said. "It's cool, I guess, to three-peat and do something no male has done in the sport," he added.
Phelps' lower lip quivered with emotion as he accepted the gold medal while trying to focus on his next race, the 100 butterfly semifinal that was scheduled to take place just moments later.
Despite his achy, lactic legs, Phelps earned the fastest time in the semifinals, and when he contests the final on Friday, it will mark the last individual event of his Olympic career. After that, the 20-time Olympic medalist's exceptional run will conclude on Saturday with the 4x100.
Unlike Lochte, who said he intends to compete in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Phelps is eager to hear the proverbial fat lady sing.
After that, he insisted, "No more competitive swimming. No masters' races; none of that."
Phelps was not the only American swimmer to make history on Thursday evening. Rebecca Soni lowered her day-old world record in the 200 breaststroke to become the first woman to eclipse the 2:20 barrier with a time of 2:19:59.
"I was scared to look," Soni said. "I was watching last night's video (of the semifinal world record) and I was turning while touching the wall. Tonight I just wanted my hand on the wall." Earlier in the night, Clary took the gold in the 200 backstroke in 1:53:41, besting Lochte's Olympic record from the 2008 Games by .53 seconds.
"It was complete redemption," Clary said. "I'm using this as a stepping stone for Rio. I'm on a climb, and I want more of this."
After the victory, Clary also pointed to the sky as if to thank his influential club coach, Kevin Perry, who died of cancer in 2008. "I'd like to think I made him proud," he said.
Team USA concluded finals competition on Thursday with Missy Franklin and Jessica Hardy placing fifth and eighth in the 100 freestyle. Franklin clocked a time of 53.64, with Hardy touching the wall in 54.02.
In semifinals action, Cullen Jones tied for first in the men's 50-meter freestyle with Brazil's Cesar Cielo in a time of 21.54, while Anthony Ervin clocked the third-fastest time (21.62) heading into the final. In the women's 200 backstroke, Elizabeth Beisel and Missy Franklin turned in the top-two times (2:06.18 and 2:06.84) to qualify for the final. Also, joining Phelps in the 100 butterfly, Tyler McGill clocked the third-fastest time of the night (51.61) to advance to the final, scheduled for tonight.
Between Athens & Beijing, Michael Phelps has won a total of 16 Olympic swimming medals.
At the Beijing Summer games Michael Phelps won 8 Gold Medals: Phelps won six gold and two bronze at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics.
Michael Phelps Athens 2004 Olympics Acheivements
Individual Swimming Events
- 400 meter individual medley Gold Medal
- 100 meter butterfly Gold Medal
- 200 meter butterfly Gold Medal
- 200 meter individual medley Gold Medal
- 200 meter freestyle Bronze Medal
Team Swimming Events
- 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay Gold Medal
- 4 x 100 meter medley relay Gold Medal
- 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay Bronze Medal
Michael Phelps Beijing 2008 Gold Medals
Individual Swimming Events
- 400 meter individual medley (Time: 4:03.84 World Record)
- 100 meter butterfly (Time: 50.58 Olympic Record)
- 200 meter butterfly (Time: 1:52.03 World Record)
- 200 meter individual medley (Time: 1:54.23 World Record)
- 200 meter freestyle (Time: 1:42.96 World Record)
Team Swimming Events
- 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay (Time: 6:58.56 World Record)
- 4 x 100 meter medley relay (Time: 3:29.34 World Record)
- 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay (Time: 3:08.24 World Record)
[ Related: Michael Phelps Wins 8th Gold Medal at 2008 Beijing Olympics ]
[ Originally published by USA Swimming (http://www.usaswimming.org) ]
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