Fri, September 20, 2013

Michael Phelps wins Olympic gold, again

By BOB MACKIN, Special to QMI Agency


Michael Phelps of the U.S. swims to win the men's 200m individual medley final during the London 2012 Olympic Games Thursday. He now has 20 career medals. (REUTERS/David Gray)


LONDON - American Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all-time, made his 20th podium appearance to pick up his 16th gold medal Thursday after beating countryman Ryan Lochte in the much-anticipated 200 metre individual medley.

Phelps, 27, started in lane 3 at the Aquatics Centre and led the whole way. Lochte, who beat Phelps at the 2011 World Championships, rallied to finish 0.63 seconds behind Phelps after trailing Brazilian Thiago Pereira mid-race.

Laszlo Cseh of Hungary was the bronze medallist, finishing with a 1.95 deficit.

The gold medal was the third consecutive in the event for Baltimorean Phelps, dating back to Athens 2004. It was also his second individual medal of the Games to go with the 200 m butterfly championship. Phelps and Lochte combined forces for the United States on the winning men’s 4 x 200 m relay and runner-up men’s 4 x 100 m relay teams.

“I said to him in the meet room ‘this is our last 200 (metres) of the meet and our last 200 (metres) together’,” Phelps said. “We were just joking around, laughing about it. Ryan has probably been one of the toughest competitors ever to swim against.”

Rochester, N.Y. native Lochte could not manage gold on the eve of his 28th birthday, but felt relieved to increase his London medal tally to five.

“I’m going to take a breather, I can finally relax,” Lochte said.

Earlier in the evening, he won bronze in the men’s 200 metre backstroke, 0.53 seconds behind American gold medallist Tyler Clary. Japan’s Ryosuke Irie was 0.37 seconds back with the silver.

Meanwhile, Martha McCabe, a Torontonian who trains in Vancouver, swam to a fifth place finish in the final of the women’s 200 metre breaststroke.

Favoured Rebecca Soni of the United States set a new world and Olympic record of 2:19.59 and she became the first Beijing 2008 swimming champion to successfully defend her title in London.

McCabe, clocked at 2:23.16, was clearly disappointed with the result. She qualified automatically for London after winning bronze at the World Championships last year.

“Coming into tonight I thought there was nothing to lose here, the first 50 just go,” said McCabe, who turns 23 on Sunday. “It’s not a podium finish like I was hoping.”

Soni, 25, beat her Wednesday qualifying time, which was also the previous world and Olympic record, by a hundredth of a second. Satomi Suzuki of Japan won silver and Russian Iulila Efimova took bronze.

Mission, B.C.’s Brent Hayden, the bronze medallist in men’s 100 m freestyle, was seventh in a men’s 50 m freestyle semifinal and did not qualify for the final. Sinead Russell of Burlington, Ont. qualified for Friday’s final with the eighth fastest time in a women’s 200 m backstroke semifinal.

“I went out the first 50 (metres), trying to feel good and go out with the field,” Russell said.