Michael Phelps Olympics 2012: Realistic Expectations for Phelps' Final Races
If you believe Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer of all time has just three races left in his career.
Back in May, Phelps told Anderson Cooper on CBS' 60 Minutes that he would be retiring after the 2012 London Olympics. If he holds to that statement, then you have just three more days to watch the most decorated Olympian in history compete in the pool.
As we've seen throughout the London Games, Phelps is no longer the invincible machine that he was in Beijing. Still, he's unquestionably one of the top two or three swimmers in the world, and he will be a threat to medal in each of his remaining events.
Here are my predictions for the final three races of Phelps' Olympic career.
200-Meter Individual Medley
Phelps has owned this race in the past, winning gold in both Athens and Beijing. Now, he will attempt to become the first male swimmer to ever win the same event in three different Olympics.
Unfortunately, he will have to take down fellow American Ryan Lochte to accomplish the feat. Lochte beat Phelps in the 200 IM at the 2011 World Championships, breaking his world record in the process.
Lochte also annihilated Phelps in the 400 IM in their first London race, and he posted the better times in both the qualifying and semifinal rounds for this event.
Phelps will medal, but I'm expecting Lochte to take the gold.
Prediction for Phelps: Silver
Like the 200 IM, Phelps has won the 100-meter butterfly in back-to-back Olympics. Unlike the 200 IM, Phelps has continued to dominate this event since Beijing.
Phelps set the world record in 2009, finishing with a blistering time of 49.82 seconds. He followed that up by winning gold in last year's World Championships, beating out Konrad Czerniak by 0.44 seconds.
He will have to fend off Czerniak again in London, as well as American Tyler McGill and Serbian Milorad Cavic, who lost to Phelps by just one one-hundredth of a second in Beijing.
He has plenty of tough competition, but this will be Phelps' last chance to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics. I think he gets it done.
Prediction for Phelps: Gold
4x100-Meter Medley Relay
In what will likely be the last competitive race of his career, Phelps with compete with his fellow Americans in the 4x100 medley.
The USA won this event in Athens and Beijing, with Phelps playing a critical role on both teams. They will look to send Phelps into retirement with another gold medal, and they're more than capable of pulling it off.
The team will certainly consist of Phelps and 100-meter freestyle gold-medalist Nathan Adrian, but the final two spots are in question. You have to think Matt Grevers, who set the Olympic record in the 100-meter backstroke a few days ago, will be included. Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau could also see some action.
Regardless of who they choose, the Americans will be the favorites to win the gold. Australia and Japan always field dangerous teams, but in the final race of Phelps' career, I'm expecting the red, white and blue to bring home the gold.
Prediction for Phelps: Gold
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