Michael Phelps won two medals at the Summer Games on Tuesday to become the most decorated athlete in Olympics history. He won a gold in the 4×200 relay and silver in the 200-meter butterfly — his signature event — to give him 19 career Olympic medals.
Phelps appeared to have gold in hand in the 200 fly, but he was caught mid-stroke as he reached for the pad and Chad le Clos of South Africa sneaked in to beat him by 0.05 seconds. Phelps later admitted that his practice habits probably hurt him at the finish.
“It’s probably the finishes that I’ve done in workout ended up coming out here,” Phelps told NBC’s Bob Costas in response to a question about the disappointment of losing the lead. “There were times where I would go kind of slow into the wall in workout or touch kind of lazy, and it showed.
“At the same time I’ve had a great career,” Phelps said. “That’s my fourth Olympic final in the 200 fly and sure, I would have liked to have been .05 or .06 seconds faster, but there’s nothing I can do about that right now and it’s time to move forward and that’s what I’m preparing for.”
Phelps had not lost in the 200-meter butterfly in a major international competition since 2002. He could have had this one, but he didn’t finish strong enough. Still, if you look back at Phelps’ career at the Olympics, he won so many other races by similar slight margins that it’s hard to be bitter about one going against him.
Phelps has had a more casual attitude and approach to these Games recognizing that everything he accomplishes in London only further cements his outstanding legacy, but he said it was tough for him to get over being beaten. Meanwhile, Tyler Clary, who finished fifth in the event, is sitting somewhere saying “told ya so.”
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