/ Olympics

Swimming: Michael Phelps wins a record 19th medal as US takes 4x200m Relay

Updated: Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012 22:51 | Comments

Michael Phelps moments after winning his 19th Olympic medal
Michael Phelps moments after winning his 19th Olympic medal

Spectators at the Aquatics Centre witnessed drama and history tonight as Michael Phelps became the all-time most decorated Olympic athlete, Ye Shiwen defied controversy to claim a second title and Michael Jamieson became one of the quickest swimmers ever as he qualified fastest for the 100 metres breaststroke final.

Phelps moved alongside Larisa Latynina on 18 medals following the 200 metres butterfly, although any sense of achievement will have been bittersweet given he was beaten at the touch by South African Chad le Clos and had to settle for silver.

The 27-year-old then anchored the United States 4x200m freestyle relay to gold as he moved on to 19 medals, Phelps now the owner of 15 gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

The Baltimore swimmer still has three races to come and is odds-on to finish his Olympic career with 22 medals.

The Bob Bowman-trained athlete paid tribute to his three relay team-mates, and said: "I thanked those guys (in the huddle) for helping get to this moment.

"I told those guys I wanted a big lead in the last leg and they gave it to me.

"I just wanted to hold on, I just wanted to thank them for allowing me to have this moment."

Phelps had the butterfly won until the final inches but he got his finish wrong, his usual perfect spotting of the wall replaced with a glide that would have had Bowman tearing his hair out.

Phelps was disappointed but was philosophical, saying: "Obviously I would have liked to have had a better outcome in the 200m fly.

"Chad swum a great race, I have got to know him over the last year, he is a hard worker, a fast racer and a tough competitor.

"I would have liked to have won my last race, but it wasn't a terrible time. It was decent."

Le Clos was hugely emotional, crying on the podium, seemingly stunned by the magnitude of his achievement which saw the South African pip his idol by 0.05secs in one minute 52.96 seconds.

He said: "This is a dream of mine, I have always said Michael Phelps was my hero.

"I wanted to be in the final for my main event, I achieved that goal and my coach said you have done all you have to do.

"But I just remember sitting in the call room thinking that Michael Phelps has never lost this race for 10 years in international meets.

I remember turning in the last 50 and just looking at him underwater and realising this is my hero, it's crazy.

"I can't describe how I felt. In the last 25 metres, I can't explain what came over me.

"I am shocked by how many people seem to know me back home now.

"I'll have to try and defend my title in four years time, but to beat Michael Phelps is something I have wanted my whole life, it is exactly what I have been dreaming off since I was 12.

"I can't speak for Michael, but he had a great race and it was a great time too."

Le Clos was hugely emotional, crying on the podium, seemingly stunned by the magnitude of his achievement which saw the South African pip his idol by 0.05secs in one minute 52.96 seconds.

He said: "This is a dream of mine, I have always said Michael Phelps was my hero.

"I wanted to be in the final for my main event, I achieved that goal and my coach said you have done all you have to do.

"But I just remember sitting in the call room thinking that Michael Phelps has never lost this race for 10 years in international meets.

I remember turning in the last 50 and just looking at him underwater and realising this is my hero, it's crazy.

"I can't describe how I felt. In the last 25 metres, I can't explain what came over me.

"I am shocked by how many people seem to know me back home now.

"I'll have to try and defend my title in four years time, but to beat Michael Phelps is something I have wanted my whole life, it is exactly what I have been dreaming off since I was 12.

"I can't speak for Michael, but he had a great race and it was a great time too." 

Meanwhile, Chinese teenager Ye Shiwen survived a late challenge from Alicia Coutts to win the 200 metres individual medley final and collect her second gold medal at the Games.

The 16-year-old followed up her incredible win in the 400 medley three days earlier with another impressive display of power and perfect technique.

But this time she had to work much harder. She was third when they turned for home but overhauled her rivals to win the multi-discipline event in two minutes, 07.57 seconds.

Coutts, who won a relay gold for Australia on Saturday took second place, just ahead of America's Caitlin Leverenz.

Earlier, Allison Schmitt of the United States won the women's 200 metres freestyle final.

The American, who trains in Baltimore with Phelps, stormed to the front on the second of four laps and was unchallenged as she won the gold in a time of one minute 53.61 seconds.

Frenchwoman Camille Muffat, who just held off Schmitt to win the 400 final on Sunday, took silver in a time of 1:55.58.

Australia's Bronte Barratt, a relay gold medallist in Beijing four years ago and the fastest qualifier for the final, finished third in 1:55.81, just edging out Missy Franklin for the bronze.

The 17-year-old from Colorado won the 100 backstroke gold the previous night and also picked up a relay bronze on Saturday but missed out on another medal by just 0.01 seconds.

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use

Medal Table

Country Total
USA 45 27 30 102
China 38 28 23 89
Great Britain 29 17 19 65
Russia 25 25 32 82
South Korea 13 8 7 28
Ireland 1 1 3 5
Full Table

Send in Your Photos

Support Team Ireland! Submit your photos