Michael Phelps wanted a big lead from his team-mates in the 200m freestyle relay, so that he could deliver the gold medal. It was a record 19th medal for him in the Olympics, getting him past the record of Russian gymnast Larissa Latynina for maximum Olympic medals.
It was another matter that the Russian gymnast was not allowed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to crown the moment for Phelps by presenting the medal to him.
“I was in a huddle with them because they made it possible. If I didn’t get a big enough lead then who knows what would have happened”, said Phelps.
Anything is possible
“The biggest thing I have always said is anything is possible. I have put my mind on doing something that no one else has done before. Being the first Michael Phelps, it has been an amazing ride. This is still fun for me. I love being here’’, said Phelps who was emotionally charged at the medal ceremony.
“I said to them, I am sorry boys, I am not going to be singing this. There were so many emotions going on. My eyes were getting watery’’, said Phelps who has 15 gold, two silver and two bronze medals so far, in his fourth Olympics. He had made his Olympic debut as a 15-year-old in Sydney and had not won a medal then.
He won six gold and two bronze in Athens, and swept all the eight gold medals in his events in Beijing in 2008.
“It is special. I saw my mom and I am starting to pick out people in the crowd. It was pretty special”, said Phelps who was beaten five hundredths of a second by Chad le Clos of South Africa earlier in the 200m butterfly.
“I know Chad and he is a hard worker. He is really talented. I can’t be too upset. It is great to see someone so amazing and talented come out and do well. Obviously I would have wanted to be a little faster, but I did what I trained to do’’, said Phelps, who admitted that he was a ‘little frustrated’ and ‘tried to shut that out of my head’”.
The 27-year-old American quipped that he had been “a human being my whole life”, hinting that he did not have to lose a race for the world to realise it.
Phelps recalled that he had congratulated Yannick Agnel of France for winning the 200m freestyle earlier, after he returned the best split of the race in the relay at 1:43.24 while anchoring France to the silver.
“I just told him it was his race on Tuesday. In my eyes, I said to him, Yannick your 200 metres was probably in the top five swims of all time’’, said Phelps.
American team-mate and strong rival, Ryan Lochte, also put the record in perspective.
“We never talked about him breaking that record. We just focused on what we needed to do, to get our hand on the wall first. We will celebrate with him later. It is unbelievable, what is it, 19. That is unheard of. He is one of the toughest racers and one of the best swimmers ever’’, said Lochte.