Michael Phelps swam into history on Tuesday, becoming the most successful Olympian of all time as a 4x200m freestyle relay gold gave him a record 19th medal after silver in the 200m butterfly.
“This has been an amazing ride,” said Phelps, whose record of 15 Olympic gold medals includes eight from his spectacular Beijing Games campaign.
He won six golds in Athens in 2004 along with two bronzes, and has won one gold and two silver medals so far in London.
South Africa’s Chad le Clos denied Phelps his bid for a 200m butterfly treble by a hair, but silver allowed the US superstar the consolation of matching Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina’s record of 18 Olympic medals. Phelps returned an hour later and teamed with Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens to capture relay gold ahead of France and China. “I think the biggest thing I have always said is anything is possible,” Phelps said of breaking Latynina’s mark.
“I put my mind on doing something no one has ever done before and nothing was going to stand in my way.”
Turning to his relay colleagues, Phelps said: “I told those guys I wanted a big lead in the last leg and they gave it to me. I just wanted to hold on. I just wanted to thank them for allowing me to have this moment.
“Before I got on the podium, I said ‘sorry boys I am not going to sing with you tonight’, there were too many emotions. I won’t get a word out”.
Obama: Phelps made US proud
US President Barack Obama (right) tweeted his congratulations to Michael Phelps. Obama tweeted: “Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You’ve made your country proud. —bo,” to which the Baltimore swimmer replied: “It’s an honor representing the USA!”
Michael phelps trivia
>> Michael first appeared in the 2000 Olympics at the young age of fifteen.
>> Baltimore, Maryland (Michael’s hometown) named a street Michael Phelps Way in his honour.
>> He had been dating pageant queen Nicole Johnson (right) on and off for several years before they called it quits earlier this year. The breakup was never confirmed in the media, but sources say they ended things in January or late December 2011.
>> Michael listens to hip-hop music before every competition. He says this helps him concentrate on his race and is able to block everything around him out to totally focus on the task at hand.
>> Role Model: Michael Jordan.
>> Loves to watch: American football
>> Favorite Team: Baltimore Ravens