Michael Phelps: US Swimmer Must Win More Gold Medals to Further Legend

Adam SpencerCorrespondent IAugust 1, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Silver medallist Michael Phelps of the United States poses with his medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Michael Phelps is now the all-time Olympic medal record-holder, with 19 medals to his name.

After coming in a disappointing second place in the 200-meter butterfly, Phelps and his Team USA teammates earned a gold with a dominant performance in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay.

That gold medal pushed him past former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who had 18 Olympic medals throughout her decorated career. It also gave him 15 golds, by far the most of any Olympian.

Now, with three more chances to medal in the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps needs to keep striving for perfection.

If he manages to finish with 18 career gold medals, his legend will be even bigger and even harder to match or exceed.

Finishing these Games with a couple of bronze medals and a silver medal would be a disappointing way to see Phelps end what is likely his last competition before retirement.

Staying competitive shouldn’t be a problem for Phelps, who was visibly upset after being overtaken at the last second in the 200-meter fly, despite still winning silver and tying Latynina’s record.

He was much happier, understandably, after winning gold by nearly a full body length in the relay, breaking Latynina’s record.

He still has three more chances to win gold medals: the 200-meter individual medley, the 100-meter butterfly and the 4x100-meter medley relay.

If he can win gold in two, or even all three, of those events, he’ll go out with a bang and people will remember him as the most dominant swimmer of all time.

He’s already turned in the most memorable performance in a single Olympic Games, with eight golds in 2008 in Beijing.

He now has a chance to be remembered as the most dominant Olympic athlete in three straight Olympics.

If he wins a couple more golds, especially one in what could be his last event ever (the relay), he’ll go out on top of his sport and his Olympic legend will be tough for anyone to ever exceed.