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

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Gophers head coach?

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