Michael Phelps: Examining Historic Legacy Through Each of His 22 Olympic Medals

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Michael Phelps: Examining Historic Legacy Through Each of His 22 Olympic Medals
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

His is a legacy that will forever be remembered as one of the greatest athletes of all time. He has 22 medals, 18 of them gold, over the course of four Olympic Games spanning 16 years.

It all began when a 15-year-old unknown made the U.S. Olympic Team to swim in just one event, the 200-meter fly. He placed in fifth and greatness was certainly not expected.

Four years later, that 19-year-old was back in Athens, qualifying to swim in eight events. He walked away from those games with eight medals, six of which were gold.

He returned in Beijing as a world and U.S. star with goals and expectations on his mind. He shattered world records and won gold medal after gold medal until his total tallied eight. He had surpassed Mark Spitz for most medals won in a single Olympic Games.

With questions of possible retirement looming, Phelps came back for one last go-around in 2012. He won a total of six medals, four of them gold, and surpassed Larisa Latynina as the winningest Olympian of all time. He was also the winningest Olympian for the third Olympics in a row.

It is a career that will likely never be touched and here is your chance to relive each medal, each race.

Relive the early golds from a 19-year-old who took on the best in world in Ian Thorpe and beat him.

Relive the races from Beijing when Jason Lezak kept the hopes of eight alive and when a .01-second victory won him the medal to tie Mark Spitz's record. Watch him break the record with his eighth gold.

Relive the moments from London when he beat rival Ryan Lochte, when he broke the record becoming the winningest Olympian of all-time and of course, his final race, a gold medal victory in a relay the U.S. has never lost.

Sit back, relax and watch the video timeline of the great career of Michael Phelps.

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