After Michael Phelps won his second gold medal of these Games and vanquished rival Chad le Clos, who finished fourth, he seemed to defy anyone to come and beat him. Phelps added a relay gold, giving him a record 21 gold medals in his career.
RIO DE JANEIRO – As he looked up at a boisterous crowd, triumphant for the 20th time in his unmatched Olympic career, Michael Phelps raised his hands and flicked them in his direction as if to say: “Bring on the world.”
Because he has won so relentlessly, Phelps has rarely needed to seek retribution. Hence the exquisite tension as he prepared to meet South African Chad le Clos in the 200-meter butterfly final Tuesday night.
Le Clos is the man who beat Phelps in the same event four years ago and also the rival who seems to irritate him most.
So after Phelps won his second gold medal of these Games and vanquished le Clos, who finished fourth, he seemed to defy anyone to come and beat him.
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Phelps won in 1 minute, 53.36 seconds, edging Masato Sakai of Japan by .04.
A little more than an hour after his butterfly final, Phelps picked up another gold medal, anchoring the United States to a comfortable victory in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay. That pushed his record totals to 21 gold medals and 25 medals overall.
“That was probably one of my most challenging doubles,” the 31-year-old Phelps said. “Doing a double like that is a lot harder than it once was.”
As he did Sunday, Phelps shared the stage at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium with Katie Ledecky, the Bethesda, Md., teenager who is primed to replace him as the world’s most dominant swimmer.
The 200-meter freestyle is not an event in which Ledecky overwhelms.
She is still relatively new to being a world-class sprinter and was considered a co-favorite with Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden.
But Ledecky showed she is just as good in a battle as she is when swimming away from the field, winning her second gold medal of these Games in 1:53.73. Sjostrom pushed her hard over the last 50 meters and earned silver in 1:54.08.
Asked if she is the future of American swimming, Ledecky replied, “I’m kind of the present, too.”
Katinka Hosszu of Hungary earned her third gold medal of the Rio Games with a victory in the 200 individual medley in 2:06.58. She previously won the 400 IM and 100 backstroke.
Adrian advances to 100 free final
Defending Olympic champion Nathan Adrian of Bremerton barely advanced in the preliminaries of the 100-meter freestyle.
He wasn’t taking any chances in the semifinals.
Competing in lane eight, Adrian posted the fastest time out of 16 swimmers, sending him to Wednesday’s final with a much more customary position in the center of the pool.
Adrian’s semifinal time was 47.83.
Kyle Chalmers of Australia won the other semifinal in 47.88.