Souhan: Phelps is pushing even as end nears

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2012 - 7:01 AM

The most decorated Olympic athlete showed rival Ryan Lochte and the world just how tough it is to dominate at the Olympics.

hide

Michael Phelps, left, and Ryan Lochte raced in the breaststroke portion of the men’s 200-meter individual medley on Thursday, with Phelps on his way to winning the gold medal and Lochte silver.

Photo: Chuck Myers, MCT

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

LONDON - The finish line seems to be rushing at Michael Phelps now. He should be used to that.

With the end of his Olympic career in sight, Phelps is winning medals, reaching milestones and for perhaps the first time enjoying every aspect of competing, from the joy of victory to the camaraderie of rivalry to the irony of refusing to take himself so seriously anymore while the sports world carves his bust.

Thursday night at the Aquatics Center, Phelps won his first individual gold medal of the 2012 Olympics. His victory over teammate Ryan Lochte in the 200-meter individual medley made Phelps the first male swimmer to win an individual event in three consecutive Olympics.

Then he summarized what it means to be a championship swimmer.

"It's really cool,'' he said of the accomplishment.

"It really hurts,'' he said of the race.

The victory gave Phelps 20 Olympic medals, two clear of the field, and 16 golds, with two races remaining. After he beat Lochte on Thursday, Phelps turned to the scoreboard, took in the result and expressed no emotion.

"That's because he's getting ready for the 100 fly,'' said his coach, Bob Bowman. "He always has that in the back of his head. That's what he does better than anybody, do the second event after the really hard first one.''

Less than half an hour later, he won his heat in the 100-meter butterfly, registering the best time in the world this year.

His rivalry with Lochte ended on Thursday. Lochte has no more races in the Olympics, and Phelps will retire at the end of the Games. As one-sided as their rivalry has been, Lochte whipped Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley to start the Olympic swimming competition, and Lochte has won 11 Olympic medals, the second-most for a male.

When the two were preparing for the 200 IM, Phelps admitted he's counting down the days. "I said to him when we were in the ready room, this is the last 200 of the meet and our last 200 together,'' Phelps said. "So we were just joking around, laughing about it. Ryan has been probably one of the toughest competitors I've ever swam against.''

Before the Olympics, Lochte called this "my time.'' Thursday, after taking silver behind Phelps and a bronze in the 200 backstroke, he called his Olympics "a little bit above average.''

That's true only if Phelps is the standard. "I can't be too disappointed,'' Lochte said. "I am coming home to my country with five Olympic medals, so that's something to be proud of.''

Lochte's inability to live up to Phelps, like Phelps' disappointment in failing to medal in one race and being overtaken for gold in another, highlights the difficulty of dominating an Olympics the way Phelps did by winning eight golds in Beijing.

Along with the sheer endurance required while recovering from one race in time to qualify for another is the emergence of quality swimmers from around the world.

"Anyone that doesn't realize what Michael did in Beijing isn't paying attention,'' U.S. swimming coach Gregg Troy said. "It's never been done before, and it's probably never going to be done again. A lot of very unique things came together. You can see that this week -- Michael was fantastic, and it's still not quite Beijing.''

Almost giddy after watching Phelps on Thursday, Bowman admitted he had tempered his expectations. "Oh, I think this is really good,'' Bowman said. "I think it's beyond what I expected might happen. I try to be pretty positive about it, but once he had that [400] IM loss, I thought, uh-oh, maybe I was right about this.''

Instead, Phelps is churning toward the finish. He'll swim in the 100 butterfly finals Friday, then finish his career in the 400 medley relay. He could win gold in both.

Who, at this point, would bet against him?

Troy's defense of Lochte was the same as his praise of the greatest swimmer in history. "You've got to understand,'' he said. "Michael's the best.''

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Thursday in Green Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close