Super swimmer Michael Phelps added two more gold medals on Tuesday night to take his tally of top podium victories to 21. His overall tally stands at 25 and he is not finished yet. Later this week, Phelps swims in three more events and going by his form, more medals could be added against the name of world’s most celebrated Olympian. The second all-time most decorated athlete at Olympics Games is former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who has won 9 gold medals during 1956 and 1964 with a total of 18 medals, including silver and bronze. Her record of 18 medals was equaled by Phelps on July 31, 2012, when he lost the 200m butterfly gold to South African Chad le Clos in the London Olympics. However, another American Raymond Ewry, who participated in a now defunct track-and-field event, standing triple jump, won 10 gold medals. Later two gold medals, which Ewry won in 1906 and 1908 intercalated Games; were not counted as Olympic medals. With 21 gold medals against his name and 25 overall, Phelps is head and shoulders above everyone else. The count of 21 gold medals is also way above of several nations’ combined gold tally in 31 Games. Phelps was the focus of attention on Tuesday, when USA also collected gold medals in fencing and cycling. With 11 gold medals, USA are ahead of China in the overall count. China have won 10 gold medals with third-placed Japan having won 6 so far.
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) August 10, 2016
Michael Phelps is already a phenomenon. 16 years ago, he went to Sydney with the US swimming team for his first Olympic appearance. Since then, enough water has been cut by his powerful strides in the swimming pools of the world. The 200-meter butterfly is Phelps’ signature event, where he finished fifth as a 15 year old debut swimmer in 2000 Sydney Olympics. One year later in March 2001, Phelps broke compatriot Tom Malchow’s world record in the event and since then, the record belongs to him In 15 years, Phelps has brought down his own world marks eight times. His worst moment in 200-m butterfly came in 2012 London Games, when he lost the race to South Africa’s Chad le Clos, the man who challenged him yet again on Tuesday. But Chad edged out Phelps at London by five-hundredths of a second. The pain of the defeat forced Phelps to announce his retirement soon after the Games. However, he brought himself out of hibernation in 2014.
Chad le Clos was in the lane next to Phelps on Tuesday night. There were four others, who at one time or another, claimed Phelps as their childhood hero. As they dived for the run, Phelps had to contend with Chad, 19-year old Hungarian Tamas Kenderesi, who had beaten Phelps in the semifinals and Masato Sakai of Japan. Phelps didn’t want the London story repeated and went for broke as he swam. The group was close and they all did well. In the end, however, Phelps repelled their challenge to win another 200m butterfly gold in 1 minute 53.36 seconds. Masato Sakai was the surprise silver medalist, Kenderesi took the bronze and Chad finished fourth.
Phelps exulted after his victory but didn’t talk to media, because he had an unfinished business at hand. 20 minutes before midnight, he was part of the US team for the 4×200 freestyle relay. Playing the anchor’s role, Phelps swam last after Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and Ryan Lochte had completed the first three legs. The US swimmers had already taken the lead after the first leg and therefore when Phelps took to the water, celebrations had begun. Phelps finished ahead of swimmers from Britain and Japan and it was gold medal no.21 for the great American swimmer. Phelps’ count of medals, however, is far from over. Later in the week, he will compete in 100m butterfly, 4 x 100 medley relay and 200m individual medley. With the American already in the winning mood, he could easily add to his overall tally. However, even with no addition, Phelps’s gold medal count is above the collective gold-medal haul by 174 countries, spread across all Olympics Games since 1896. Some countries that Phelps recently left behind are; Austria 19, Argentina 18, Jamaica 17, Iran 15, Czech Republic 14 Mexico 13 and India 9.