The sports world has run out of ways to describe Michael Phelps.
But after winning the 200-meter individual-medley race for his fourth gold medal of the 2016 Olympics, his 22nd gold medal overall, and his 26th medal total, it’s safe to call Phelps the greatest Olympian of all-time.
At 31 years old, on Thursday, Phelps didn’t just win the 200 IM — he destroyed his competition.
After tinkering away at building a lead, over the final 50 meters, the freestyle leg, Phelps took off. Nobody was within 10 meters when he touched the wall.
Ryan Lochte, the second most decorated Olympic swimmer of all-time, didn’t even place. Though Lochte admitted after the race that he swam poorly, the timing makes Phelps’ dominance all the more stunning.
It was perhaps the last time Phelps and Lochte — again, the two most decorated swimmers of all-time — will face off. It also comes after Lochte, in an interview with NBC, said if it weren’t for Phelps, he would be the Michael Phelps of swimming. Alas, this is the Phelps era.
In winning his 22nd gold medal, Phelps broke a 2,000-year-old record held by Leonidas of Rhodes, who previously held the record of most individual records. Phelps now has 13, making him, by basically all measures, the greatest Olympian.
Phelps has hinted that this will be his last Olympics. Though Tokyo 2020 is a long way away, and Phelps still has the 100-meter butterfly to swim, he doesn’t look anything like an athlete in decline.
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