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Michael Phelps Caps Historic Career with Gold Medal in 4x100m Medley Relay

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIAugust 4, 2012

Michael Phelps ended his career on top by swimming the butterfly leg for the United States’ gold-medal-winning 4x100-meter medley relay team.

The US Olympic Team reported the results via Twitter:

In the last race of @michaelphelps career, he takes GOLD in 4x100 medley relay w/ teammates @nathangadrian, @mattgrevers, @brendanhansen.

— US Olympic Team (@USOlympic) August 4, 2012

Matt Grevers led off the race with the backstroke, followed by Brendan Hansen in the breaststroke. Then Phelps swam the third leg and put the United States in the lead, and Nathan Adrian finished with the freestyle.

Phelps told Anderson Cooper of CBS in an interview prior to the London Olympics that he would retire following the Games’ conclusion.

The swimming superstar's career started in Sydney in 2000 when he was just 15 years old. He failed to win a medal at such a young age, but when he arrived at the pool four years later in Athens, a legend started to form.

He swam in eight events in 2004 and medaled in all of them, taking home six golds and two bronzes.

Then the hype his its highest point as many wondered if he could win an unprecedented eight gold medals in Beijing. There was no shortage of drama during his epic quest, but when the 2008 Games were completed, Phelps had won all eight events, becoming first athlete to win eight golds in one Olympics.

His 2012 performance did not begin with as much fanfare. Phelps’ rivalry with Ryan Lochte was one of the dominant storylines in London, but in the pair's first event, the 400-meter individual medley, Lochte dominated en route to winning gold while Phelps finished fourth.

The 27-year-old rebounded and took silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay the next night. Two days later, he won another silver, in the 200-meter butterfly, and his first gold of the Games, in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. 

The gold medal was the 19th piece of Olympic hardware Phelps had acquired during his career, making him the most decorated athlete in the history of the Games.

But he was not done setting records.

Phelps beat Lochte in the 200-meter individual medley, becoming the first man to win the same swimming event in three consecutive Olympics. He accomplished the same feat by winning the 100-meter butterfly the next evening.

No athlete has ever had as much success as Phelps, and at this point it is difficult to imagine anyone ever will.

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