The most decorated athlete in Olympic history just added another medal to his collection. Michael Phelps led from start to finish in the men’s 200 individual medley, showcasing his strengths in all four strokes to win the race in 1 minute 54.27 seconds and earn his fourth medal of the London Games.
Phelps’ second gold in three days brings his career total to 16 and his overall medal count to 20 and earned him another first: He is the first man to win the same individual swimming event at three consecutive Olympics.
“Obviously we’ve seen how challenging it is since I’ve fallen a little short in a couple already,” Phelps said. “Even though, [Lochte] had that 200 back I knew it was going to be tough . . . to be the first to three-peat is something pretty special.”
Phelps was only one of several American swimmers to bring home gold on another banner day in the pool for Team USA.
One day after breaking the world record in her 200-meter breaststroke semifinal heat, Rebecca Soni obliterated it in the final with a blistering time of 2:19.59.
“I’m so happy,” Soni said. “I didn’t try to focus on medals or records or anything I just wanted to swim one more race my way.”
In the men’s 200-meter backstroke, Tyler Clary won gold in an Olympic-record time of 1:53.41. Lochte, swimming just 21 minutes before the 200 IM final, finished third in 1:53.94. Japan’s Ryosuke Irie (1:53.78) took silver.
Soni, who defended her gold from the 2008 Beijing Games, is the first woman to break the 2:20 mark. Japan’s Satomi Suzuki won silver (2:20.72) and Russia’s Iuliia Efimova (2:20.92) took bronze. American Micah Lawrence was sixth.
“I’m so happy,” Soni said. “I didn’t try to focus on medals or records or anything. I just wanted to swim one more race my way.”
Teen sensation Missy Franklin missed the podium in the 100 freestyle, finishing fifth as top qualifier Ranomi Kromowidjojo re-set her own Olympic record to win gold in 53 seconds. Aliaksandra Herasimenia took silver in 53.38 and China’s Yi Tang (53.44) finished third. Franklin, who won gold in both the 100-meter backstroke and 4x200 freestyle relay. finishes the race in 53.64.
Phelps has more chances to add to his medal haul in what he has said will be his final Olympics. He won his semifinal heat in the 100-meter butterfly shortly after Thursday’s IM race, finishing in 50.86. That final is Friday, and the 4x100-meter medley relay is Saturday.
Amy Shipley contributed from London.