Michael Phelps already became the most decorated Olympian in history during the 2012 London Games. Now he's starting to put some distance between himself and everybody else with another gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly.
Nice job, @michaelphelps!The most-decorated Olympian of all time adds a 21st medal to his collection, winning 100 fly in 51.21.— US Olympic Team (@USOlympic) August 3, 2012
The triumph gives Phelps 21 medals overall with 17 of them being gold. It's a résumé no other athlete that has ever competed at the Olympics can match, leaving future generations to try and chase him down.
It's the third consecutive Games in which the American sensation won the event dating back to Athens in 2004. And he had to beat a talented field, including Milorad Cavic, Chad le Clos and fellow Team USA member Tyler McGill, to do it.
Based on his performance in London it's clear Phelps is still one of the best swimmers in the world and could make another run in 2016, but he's decided to step aside after dedicating nearly his entire life to the sport.
All things considered, it's hard to blame him. Even though fans usually only see his dominance in the pool once every four years, he has worked tirelessly in between Games to remain on top for so long.
He has nothing left to prove. He's taken over every record he was gunning for when his amazing career began. Some of the races were won by fractions of a second and others in blowout fashion, but more often than not he's come out on top.
So it's only fitting that in his last individual Olympic race he touched the wall first. Although Phelps clearly had the natural talent and body type necessary to win, it was his desire to win that truly separated him from the pack, and it showed again on Friday.
Phelps hasn't been anywhere near the level he was in Beijing, but he has still managed to find ways to emerge victorious. That's the sign of a champion.
In an era where world records are getting broken on a regular basis and Olympians are frequently one-hit wonders, Phelps will stand the test of time. He broke a medal record that stood for nearly five decades and it won't be matched any time soon.
That's what makes the Olympics so special. A kid from Maryland can grow up and become a champion, all while an entire planet of people looks on in amazement.
By now, nobody was surprised by Phelps' final individual victory, but the astonishment is still there.
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