After a breathtaking 200-metre individual medley race, it was Michael Phelps who claimed first position in the final and extended his Olympics gold medal haul to 22. Phelps finished the race in a time of 1:54.66, and three swimmers looked set at the halfway stage for a new world record timing. The 31-year-old fell off the pace just a little in the last 100 metres, to elude what would have been a world record set under amazing circumstances.
Phelps was given company by his countryman, friend and rival Ryan Lochte, and the Brazilian Thiago Pereira for the most of the race as the three of them edged ahead after the first split.
It was Pereira in front at the end of the first 50 metres, as the home crowd cheered him on lustily in hopes of the gold medal. At the end of 100 metres, Ryan Lochte was ahead of Pereira and Phelps by 0.01 seconds. However, this was when Phelps kicked on, leaving the rest of the pool behind. He edged ahead, and for the first time in the race, a leader had emerged at some distance from second. At the end of the 150 metres, Phelps was leading Pereira by half a second and Lochte by 1 second.
Breastroke in not Phelps’ speciality, but it was on this leg that he pulled ahead of the pack.
As if giving up, both Lochte and Pereira dropped off in the last 50 metres, as Phelps increased the distance. Instead of them, 2nd and 3rd place were claimed by Japan’s Kosuke Hagino (1:54.66) and China’s Shun Wang (1:54.66). Lochte finished fifth with 1:57.47. Pereira finished seventh with 1:58.02.
Phelps, the undisputed first place, was closer to breaking the world record than the second placed swimmer was to him. This was his fourth gold medal at Rio 2016. He has now contested 27 events at 5 Olympics & failed to win a medal only once. He also became the first swimmer to win the same event (200 IM) in 4 different Olympic Games.
Phelps will next be seen at the 100 metre butterfly semis from 8:08 am IST.