Michael Phelps Will Continue Breaking Records in London
Even after distinguishing himself as the most decorated Olympian of all-time, Michael Phelps' work in the 2012 London Games is far from done.
With the 200-meter individual medley and the 100-meter butterfly still in his own control, Phelps has the opportunity to continue breaking records and add to his total of 19 medals.
Phelps will want to go out with a bang, and he has some golden opportunities to do so.
Although he's known for rolling to gold in nearly every event he participates in, Phelps will be able to show off his unmatched versatility in the individual medley, and compete once more in his favored butterfly stroke.
A victorious effort in either of the two events will make Phelps the first swimmer in history to win the same Olympic event three times in a row.
That should be plenty of incentive for Phelps to get up for the next two races. What's unusual is a certain air of revenge at stake that adds to the excitement of already must-see TV.
In the 200-meter butterfly, Phelps looked as though he would coast to another gold medal. He led entering the final stretch, but South Africa's Chad le Clos made a swift stroke and slapped the wall five hundredths of a second quicker.
The devastating defeat was unfamiliar territory for Phelps, who hadn't lost the event in any international competition since 2002. It was Phelps' own fault, as he casually glided toward the wall, not exploding to the finish as he's done so many times before.
Will Michael Phelps win gold medals in his final three races?
After the race, Phelps confessed to being a bit lax in his training at times to NBC's Bob Costas:
It's probably the finishes that I've done in workout ended up coming out here...There were times where I would go kind of slow into the wall in workout or touch kind of lazy, and it showed.
That's quite a self-indictment to the public, but it shows that Phelps can hold himself accountable. It may have been the wake-up call he needed to avoid similar disappointments in the next two races.
Phelps' fourth place at Wednesday morning's 200 IM preliminary contest shouldn't be a source of much concern, either.
According to a report by Beth Davis of the Associated Press, Phelps didn't get back to the athletes village until after midnight. The previous evening was certainly surreal for Phelps after anchoring the gold medal American 4x200-meter relay to clinch his all-time medals record.
While he may have difficulty processing the magnitude of his accomplishments on the fly, Phelps has at least some time to recover physically.
Tomorrow, he will gear up for a busy day in his last two individual races ever as an Olympian.
Beyond that, he still has the 4x100-meter medley on Friday, a relay in which the Americans are the reigning champs in the past two Summer Games as well.
It will be a bittersweet farewell to the greatest swimmer ever, but it will also be another opportunity for Phelps to build his legend.
Phelps bested what was a world-record 200 IM medley time at the 2008 Beijing Games in the 2011 World Championships. While his 100-meter butterfly wasn't as strong, very recent memories of that stroke will motivate Phelps maybe more than ever.
Ideally, athletes would like to ride into retirement going out on top. Phelps has a great chance to add three more medals to his collection of hardware.
Three golds is a real possibility, too, which would give Phelps 18 medals of that variety. That would double the closest competition, who Phelps already swims circles around.
Maybe he's not what he once was, but London is more than a farewell tour for Phelps. He's in it to win it as usual, and it's impossible to doubt the greatest Olympic champion ever.
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