Phelps becomes most decorated Olympian ever with 19th medal

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 1, 2012 - 2:01 PM

Record 19th medal makes Olympic history even as he looked more human than ever in the pool.

LONDON - For so long, Michael Phelps' relationship with the swimming world was simple. He played the role of the prow; everyone else trailed in his wake.

Tuesday night, Phelps' relationship with the swimming world became more nuanced even as his role in Olympic history became clear.

Phelps won two medals at the Aquatics Center, giving him 19 in his career. That topped Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina's previous mark of 18 from 1956 to 1964 and gave him more than anyone else in Olympic history.

"Being able to do something that nobody else has done before -- that's what I always said I wanted to do," Phelps said.

Yet he achieved the milestone while losing at the finish of his best race and relying on his teammates in another.

It's hard to say which was more unprecedented.

Phelps earned his first medal of the night while being overtaken at the finish of the 200-meter butterfly by South African Chad le Clos, who won by 0.05 second.

"Yeah,'' Phelps said, "I was upset.''

Phelps hadn't lost that particular race in a major meet since 2000. After the photo finish, Phelps whirled in the water, spied the result, threw his cap in disgust, and dived over the lane barrier to shake Le Clos' hand, and then kept diving over barriers until he was pulling himself out of the pool. He looked back over his shoulder as he walked away, as if in disbelief.

Phelps smiled through the medal ceremony as Le Clos cried, then turned his attention to the 4x200 meter relay. Turns out, Phelps could have worn water wings and a nose pin. Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens gave Phelps an immense lead on the anchor leg, and he coasted home, before slapping the hands of his teammates, then teaching them how to conduct themselves during a medal ceremony.

"The way he handled that silver medal tonight, I think I'm prouder of that one than maybe any of the other ones,'' said Phelps' personal coach, Bob Bowman. "That one was kind of heartbreaking. He immediately went down and got warmed up and swam one of the great relay splits ever done to win the team gold medal. The whole thing showed how he matured.''

Said Phelps: "I started smiling with like 20 meters to go. That's the first time I think I've ever done that in a race. I knew we had won. I'm kind of at a loss for words right now."

Last week, Phelps met the woman whose record he would break. He hugged Latynina and mugged for the cameras, and then failed to medal in his first race, the 400-meter individual medley, as Lochte won the gold.

Phelps looked angry, but not as angry as he looked after the 200 butterfly.

"This has been, well, a lot,'' Phelps said. "I guess the last couple of days I've probably been a lot more relaxed. The first couple of days I was uptight, trying to be super serious, and just the last couple of days I've just been laughing all the time, just having fun. That's what I said I wanted to do in the beginning, and that's what I'm going to do the rest of the week.''

Phelps' relay teammates were in the warmup pool when Le Clos outreached Phelps. They weren't sure how to react.

"But a mad Phelps,'' said Berens, "is a good Phelps to have on your relay.''

Before the race, Phelps went to his teammates and showed them a fist, symbolizing teamwork. After the race, he gathered them again.

"He came to us and said, 'I just became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, and I want to thank you guys,'" Berens said. "We didn't have much to say, because we're usually thanking him.''

By taking silver in his best race and relying on his teammates in the relay, Phelps seemed more human than the machine he appeared to be while winning eight golds in Beijing.

"It has been a pretty amazing career,'' said Phelps, who has insisted this is his last Olympics. "But we still have a couple of races to go.''

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Phelps becomes most decorated Olympian ever

    Tuesday July 31, 2012

    Phelps becomes most decorated Olympian ever

  • USA's Michael Phelps, from left, Conor Dwyer, Ryan Lochte and Ricky Be...

  • From left, United States' Conor Dwyer, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Ricky Berens pose with their gold medals after their win in the men's 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay.

  • USA swimmers (left to right) Michael Phelps, Ricky Berens and Conor Dwyer celebrate following their gold medal victory in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay.

  • Michael Phelps is congratulated by teammates after swimming the anchor leg of the men's 4x200m freestyle relay, which the U.S. won. Phelps won his first gold medal of the London Olympics, and his 19th medal during his Olympic career, making him the most decorated medal-winner of all time.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 90 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close