Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer in Olympic history, and he has a chance to elevate his legendary status even higher by winning the 200-meter IM Thursday night in London. No swimmer in history has won three straight gold medals in this event, but Phelps is set to shatter that. He won gold in the 200-meter individual medley in Athens and in Sydney.
Michael Phelps has been a monster in the pool over the past eight years. He has captivated Americans with his extraordinary swimming ability, and rarely has he disappointed.
After failing to medal in his only race at the Sydney Games in 2000, Phelps shocked the swimming world in Athens by winning six gold and two bronze medals. Phelps won gold in the 4x200 freestyle, 4x100 medley, 200-meter butterfly, 400-meter individual medley, 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter individual medley.
He won bronze medals in the 4x100 freestyle and the 200-meter freestyle.
As incredible as the Athens Games were for Phelps, his performance at the Beijing Games would be even more impressive—he won eight gold medals. That is a staggering number of gold medals to win during one Olympic Games, as there are qualifying heats, semifinals and then the final races to swim.
At Beijing, Phelps won gold in 100-meter butterfly, 400-meter individual medley, 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter individual medley, 4x100 medley, 4x100 freestyle and the 4x200 freestyle.
Phelps came to the London Games owning 14 gold medals, and 16 medals overall. He won a silver medal in the 4x100 freestyle and another silver medal in the 200-meter butterfly. Phelps then won gold in the 4x200 freestyle. This gives him 15 gold medals, two silver and two bronze.
Phelps won medal No. 19 at these Olympic Games, setting a record for the most medals ever won by an individual athlete. It is an astonishing number, and a record that might stand for quite some time.
Mark Phillips of cbsnews.com reported on what Phelps thought after breaking the 48-year-old record.
It's something that's very special, Phelps said. You know, these Olympics are going to be a lot more emotional at times, and ... that's why, in the huddle, I was saying to these guys, "Thank you for you guys making this possible." You know, if I didn't have a big enough lead, who knows what would have happened? And these guys were able to put together three stellar spots in the relay and gave me a lead, and I just tried to finish.
Phelps has three races left at the London Games, but the one that truly matters is the race he will swim in the 200-meter individual medley. A win in this race can take him to another level, as he could make the claim of being the only swimmer in history ever to win the gold medal in three straight Olympic Games.
Phelps will have to contend with fellow American Ryan Lochte, as the pair has battled it out at Olympic trials and during the semifinal on Wednesday night. Phelps beat Lochte during Olympic trials by nine-hundredths of a second and Lochte beat Phelps in the semifinal on Wednesday night.
This is going to be a battle between two fellow Americans who hate to lose. The rivalry is strange, as they are teammates in some events—like the 4x200 freestyle that gave Phelps his record winning 19th medal, and bitter rivals in others like tonight’s 200-meter individual medley.
Ann Killion of sportsillustrated.com reported on what Phelps thought of his rivalry with Lochte.
"We love racing each other," said Phelps. "Neither one of us likes to lose. I'd like to say we bring out the best in each other.”
It is fair to say that this rivalry will come to a head when the two hit the water on Thursday night. Phelps is already the most decorated Olympic athlete ever, and he has a chance to hammer that point home with a gold medal winning performance tonight.
It will be one of the most thrilling races that will take place in the entire London Games, and the Phelps legend can grow even bigger tonight. When Phelps wins gold in the 200-meter medley Thursday night, he will make history, and he will add to a resume that is already the greatest in the swimming world.