Michael Phelps continued his stratospheric sojourn through the Olympic record book by winning his 20th and 21st gold medals of his career, which has now encompassed five Summer Games.
The 31-year-old swimmer claimed gold in the 200-meter butterfly for the third time, but avenged one of his rare Olympic defeats in doing so, and anchored the United States’ 4×200-meter freestyle relay to a gold on the fourth night of swimming competition at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
He avenged a 2012 defeat in the 200 fly, beating 24-year-old South African Chad le Clos by finishing in 1 minute, 53.36 seconds. Arguably Phelps’ biggest rival, Le Clos claimed gold in 2012 narrowly over Phelps, who then retired just after the London Games. Le Clos reigned supreme in this event while Phelps was away, but the American’s re-emergence and performance Tuesday night re-established his place atop one of his best events.
Later in the evening, the swimming icon anchored the 4×200 team made up of himself, Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and longtime rival Ryan Lochte, to a decisive victory. Phelps has now been a part of four straight Olympic champion quartets in this event.
Phelps has won a gold medal in 21 of the 27 Olympic events he’s entered and claimed 25 medals total. His standing as the greatest Olympian may be up for debate, but he’s undoubtedly one of the greatest to compete in the hallowed gathering and by far the greatest swimmer to compete in the Olympics.
He still has competition in the 100-meter butterfly — an event he’s won in every Olympics dating back to Athens in 2004 — and the 200-meter individual medley. He already helped the Americans to gold in the 4×100 free relay and is expected to help the nation defend its title in the 4×100 medley relay.