Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Michael Phelps wins gold in last Olympic race before retiring

LONDON — One by one his rivals formed a handshake line behind the blocks at the London Aquatics Centre and paid homage to Michael Phelps. In what he said was his racing finale Saturday, as a member of the U.S. men's 400-meter medley relay team, Phelps collected his 22nd medal and 18th gold.

Before Phelps retired, he had one last trophy to collect: a statuette from swimming's governing body that recognized his place in Olympic history and resembled a crinkled piece of aluminum foil from a footlong sandwich.

"It's kind of weird looking at this and seeing 'Greatest Olympian of All Time,' " Phelps said, adding, "I finished my career the way I wanted to. I think that's pretty cool."

Some architects of history work from a blueprint, while others, like Phelps, do not want to acknowledge any ceiling. Phelps transformed swimming, inspiring a generation at home and abroad, by building an audacious program out of grit, guts and a burning desire to make swimming cool for children all over the world.

"I wanted to change the sport and take it to another level," Phelps said.

Mission accomplished.

Saturday, Phelps' butterfly followed Matt Grevers' backstroke and Brendan Hansen's breaststroke in the medley relay, and 50.73 seconds later, his career over, he gave the anchor, free­styler Nathan Adrian, a lead that Adrian turned into a runaway victory over Japan and Australia. The Americans won in 3 minutes, 29.35 seconds, just off their 2008 Olympic record .

"I was able to really put the final cherry on top (Saturday), put all the whipped cream I wanted and sprinkles. I was able to top off the sundae," Phelps, 27, said.

Phelps wasn't the only star of the night. Missy Franklin capped off an impressive Olympic debut by helping the United States take gold in the women's 400 medley relay with a world-record time, 3:52.05, beating the mark of 3:52.19 set by China at the 2009 world championships.

It was the fourth gold for Franklin, 17, tying Amy Van Dyken in 1996 for the most by a U.S. female swimmer at a Games. Franklin's other medal was bronze, bringing her overall total to five in seven events, the same number of events Phelps swam.

Another member of that relay was Allison Schmitt, who trained with Phelps over the past year in Baltimore and became friends with him. She finished with three golds, a silver and a bronze.

China's Sun Yang won the 1,500 freestyle in a world-record 14:31.02. That beat his mark from last year's world championships by 3.12 seconds. Sun added that to his gold in the 400 free.

The Netherlands' Ranomi Kromowidjojo won the women's 50 free to complete a sweep of the sprints in an Olympic-record 24.05 seconds. But this night was all about a farewell for Phelps.

Later, as he got up to leave one news conference and go to another, the other three U.S. swimmers were asked if they thought he would stay retired.

Phelps wouldn't even let them answer, saying, "Yes! Yes!"

Michael Phelps wins gold in last Olympic race before retiring 08/04/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 4, 2012 11:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  2. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. gets extra day off to let hip heal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Steven Souza Jr. ran in rightfield before batting practice under the watchful gaze of the Rays training staff and manager Kevin Cash. Afterward, Souza told Cash he could use one more day of rest before playing on the left hip he strained Wednesday in Oakland.

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brad Miller (13) gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after his solo home run in the fourth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 21, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: FS1; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  4. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    Looks like LF Corey Dickerson is coming out of his funk at the plate — .186 average in past 16 games entering Friday. He had two hits Wednesday in Oakland and three hits Friday against the Rangers. Okay, one was an infield hit that bounced high in front of the plate, but the other was a long home run to …

  5. History shows Ole Miss upheaval tough to overcome

    College

    After Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday, with the opener six weeks away, offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim head coaching position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations.

    After coach Jim Tressel resigned, Ohio State went 6-7, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl, in 2011.