Michael Phelps stands alone as the greatest – or most prolific, you call it – Olympic athlete of all time. No modern Olympic athlete, in any sport, Summer or Winter, from any country, ever, has won more medals than Phelps.
It was a historic gold medal for Michael Phelps in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay – the 19th of his Olympic career. It capped a field day for Team USA in the pool Tuesday, with Americans winning medals in every final event, including gold in the Women’s 200m Freestyle.
Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final
The American men were heavily favored to repeate as gold medalists in the Men’s 2 x 400m Free, but I certainly didn’t expect the dominating performance begun on the second 100m of the leadoff swim by Ryan Lochte and ended on the resolute determination of Michael Phelps’ anchor leg. It was an interesting shift in strategy for Team USA, taking the pressure of the finish off Lochte and shifting it to their best swimmer.
While Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens share in the golden glory, the weight of the moment belongs to Phelps. His gold medal in this event was his 19th Olympic medal, which is the most of any athlete in any sport from any country in the modern history of the Olympic Games. Phelps’ family – watching from the grandstands – was clearly emotional, and Phelps hugged the lane divider for quite a while following the race’s conclusion to take in the moment.
France finished 3.07 seconds behind Team USA for the silver, and China was 6.6 seconds behind for the bronze.
Men’s 200m Butterfly Final
Phelps was not invincible on the day, however, faltering in his best event in probably the best race of the day. Phelps had the lead at every touch of the wall by tenths of a second and was seemingly on his way to gold at the final turn, but South African Chad le Clos, swimming in the lane to Phelps’ right, rode his wake and chased him down in the last half-length of the pool for the gold medal. Phelps lost his signature event by only five-hundredths of a second. Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda won the bronze, and American Tyler Clary finished fifth.
It came down to the finish, which was the exact opposite of the same event in Beijing in 2008. Then, Phelps took a final stroke into the wall, overtaking an opponent who stayed underwater, stretching for the wall, by one one-hundredth of a second. This time around, Phelps was the one stretching underwater, and le Clos took the extra stroke.
Women’s 200m Freestyle Final
Allison Schmitt has hit for the cycle, topping her silver medal in the women’s 400m freestyle and bronze in the 4 x 100m free relay with an Olympic record time of 1:53.61 for the gold medal in the 200m free, blowing away the field. Schmitt was fourth after the 50m mark but posted the best time at each split the rest of the way. French swimmer Camille Muffat took silver and Aussie Bronte Barratt took bronze. Missy Franklin, the gold medalist in the women’s 100m backstroke, was in medal contention at each split but finished .01 seconds out of a tie for bronze.
Women’s 200m Individual Medley Final
Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, amid allegations of doping after she posted a better freestyle split time than male American swimmer Ryan Lochte in a previous semifinal, chased down American Caitlin Leverenz and Australia’s Alicia Coutts in the last 50 meters on the freestyle to win her second gold medal of the Games. Shiwen’s time of 2:07.57 was an Olympic record. Coutts also overtook Leverenz, who led at the 150m mark after the breaststroke, for silver, though Leverenz held on for the bronze after coming back from sixth place at the 100m mark following the backstroke.
World record holder, American Ariana Kukors, finished fifth.
Men’s 100m Freestyle Semifinals
Cullen Jones and Nathan Adrian, swimming in the same semifinal, were in contention for the lead at the 50m mark, with Adrian touching the wall first. Adrian pulled away from the field with 25 meters to go to win an intense semifinal, but Jones struggled visibly, finishing last and missing the final. Adrian’s 47.97 second result was the second-fastest time in the semis.
Men’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals
Americans Scott Weltz and Clark Burckle advanced to the Men’s 200m Breaststroke Final, swum tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., with times of 2:08.99 and 2:09.11, respectively. Weltz qualified in the fourth position, and Burckle qualified sixth.
Women’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals
Kathleen Hersey enters the Women’s 200m Butterfly Finals with the top qualifying time of 2:05.90, .2 seconds quicker than Jiao Liuyang of China. American Cammile Adams also qualified for the finals, finishing seventh. The finals will be swum tomorrow at 2:12 p.m. CT.