Michael Phelps won his fourth straight gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley event, blowing away rival Ryan Lochte and the rest of the field by nearly two seconds. Phelps has now won four gold medals during the Rio Olympics and pushed his all-time total to 22 golds.
While much had been made of Phelps’s final showdown with Lochte, it wasn’t even close on Thursday night. Phelps, who will also swim in the 100-meter butterfly semifinal on Thursday night, dominated the final-half of the race to post a 1:54.66. Lochte finished fifth.
Phelps entered the night already having won gold medals in three events — the 200 butterfly along with the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays to push his all-time gold medal count to 22 — but this race carried a different kind of narrative given his rivalry with Lochte and the fact that it will serve as the last time the two swimmers meet in the Olympics. Both entered the night with 15 of the fastest times ever in the event.
Thursday night’s showdown served as the only individual event of these Olympics for Lochte, the 32-year-old who has been battling with Phelps for over a decade and took bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012 behind the most-decorated Olympian in history, Phelps. Lochte entered the Olympics with 12 Olympic medals.
With the victory, Phelps also broke a tie for most individual Olympic titles with Leonidas of Rhodes, whose record of 12 golds stood for 2,168 years before Phelps matched it Tuesday night with his gold in the 200 butterfly. Phelps now stands alone with the most titles in history at 13 total.
Lochte, the world-record holder, had won four straight world championships in the event, but was searching for the elusive gold medal Thursday night. He was just a half-second behind Phelps in Wednesday’s preliminary round, posting a time of 1:56.28, and while he narrowly led at the halfway-point Thursday night, Phelps blew away the field on his final 50 meters before jumping in the pool to cool down for the 100 butterfly.