Phelps breaks Olympic medal record

06:30, Aug 01 2012
Michael Phelps
JULY 2001: Tom Malchow and Michael Phelps pose with their medals after the men's 200m butterfly during the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
Michael Phelps
AUGUST 2004: Phelps on the podium after winning gold in the men's 200 metre individual medley competition during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Michael Phelps
NOVEMBER 2007: Phelps attends the "Hilton Swim to Beijing Relay" event at the Hilton Hotel Los Angeles in Universal City, California.
Michael Phelps
AUGUST 2008: Phelps celebrates after the US won the 4x100m freestyle relay final at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Michael Phelps
AUGUST 2008: Phelps poses with his gold medal during the ceremony for the men's 200m butterfly at the Beijing Games.
Michael Phelps
AUGUST 2008: Celebrating victory in the men's 100m butterfly final at the Beijing Games.
Michael Phelps
JUNE 2009: Phelps celebrates after winning the final of the 400m freestyle during the XLII Santa Clara International Invitational Swim Meet.
Michael Phelps
AUGUST 2009: Phelps celebrates victory in the men's 100m butterfly final during the 13th FINA World Championships in Rome, Italy.
Michael Phelps
AUGUST 2010: Phelps looks on after winning the men's 200 metre butterfly final during the Mutual of Omaha Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine, California.
Michael Phelps
JULY 2011: Phelps reacts after winning the men's 4x100m medley relay during day 16 of the 14th FINA World Championships.
Michael Phelps
JUNE 2012: Phelps competes in the championship final of the men's 200m individual medley during day six of the 2012 US Olympic swimming team trials in Nebraska.
Michael Phelps
AUGUST 2012: Phelps celebrates with his gold medal for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay, also his 19th Olympic medal.
Michael Phelps
AUGUST 2012: Phelps swims in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Four years after he climbed to the top of Olympic achievement, Michael Phelps took the last step he needed to reach the absolute peak.

The greatest swimmer of all time became the most decorated Olympian of all time when he won a record 19th Olympic medal at the London Games this morning (NZ time).

With a little help from his American friends, Phelps won his first gold medal in London in the 4x200 metres freestyle less than an hour after a shock defeat in the 200 butterfly, an event he has dominated for over a decade.

His team mates threw their arms around him and the crowd at London's Aquatic Centre rose to their feet to witness the coronation of the Olympic king.

The record Phelps broke was held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won the last of her 18 Olympic medal at Tokyo in 1964.

Until Phelps surfaced, no-one had come close to breaking her record in almost half a century but now the torch has been passed to the 27-year-old from Baltimore.

"I would have liked a better outcome in the 200 fly. Obviously it was my last one and I would have liked to win but ... it wasn't a terrible time," Phelps said.

"I thank those guys for helping me get to this moment ... I just wanted to hold on. I thank them for allowing me this moment."

RAPID RISE

While Phelps stood alone at the summit and surveyed everything below him, Chinese teenage sensation Ye Shiwen continued her rapid rise by winning the 200 individual medley.

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

She was in third place when she turned for home after the breaststroke leg but overhauled her rivals on the final freestyle lap to complete the multi-discipline event in 2:07.57.

The victory, ahead of Australia's Alicia Coutts and American Caitlin Leverenz, capped a tumultuous day for the teenager.

Despite winning the world title last year, millions of people around the globe are watching her compete for the first time and she was the subject of intense scrutiny after an American swimming coach made thinly-veiled accusations of doping, which prompted an angry response by Chinese officials.

Allison Schmitt, who trains in Baltimore with Phelps, turned the tables on Camille Muffat to win the women's 200 freestyle gold.

Schmitt finished second to the Frenchwoman in Saturday's 400 final but led all the way to win the four-lap race in 1:53.61. Muffat was second and Australia's Bronte Barratt third, a fingernail in front of Colorado teenager Missy Franklin.

LONDON STRUGGLES

Compared to Beijing, where he won an unprecedented eight golds, and Athens where he won six golds and two bronzes, Phelps has struggled in London, winning just one silver medal from the first three days of competition.

Things got even worse when he suffered a shock defeat to South Africa's Chad le Clos in the 200 butterfly final after messing up his touch.

Bidding to became the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three Olympics, Phelps led all the way but misjudged his final stroke, allowing le Clos to get his hands on the wall first in a time of one minute, 52.96 seconds.

"I just wanted to race Phelps in the final and I've beaten him. I can't believe it," said le Clos. "Phelps is my hero and I love the guy."

Phelps was unable to hide his disappointment, throwing his goggles into the water then storming past waiting media but managed to regain his composure in time for the relay.

The result was never in doubt after Ryan Lochte gave them a big lead after the opening leg.

Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens kept the Americans in front, allowing Phelps to bring them home on the anchor leg ahead of France and China and the crowd to their feet.

Advertisement

Michael Phelps holds his 19th Olympic medal after the US won the 4x100m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
RECORD BREAKER: Michael Phelps holds his 19th Olympic medal after the US won the 4x100m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Michael Phelps leaves the pool deck after winning the silver medal in the men's 200m butterfly final during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
IT'S STILL SILVER: Michael Phelps leaves the pool deck after winning the silver medal in the men's 200m butterfly final during the London 2012 Olympic Games.