Phelps wins back the one that got away

Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:39am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - By his own admission, Michael Phelps could not have scripted it better as he won back the title closest to his heart on an evening of pure gold for the most medaled Olympic athlete of all time.

The 200 meters butterfly was the first race he swam at an Olympics, at Sydney in 2000, and the gold that got away -- the one he wanted back after being beaten by a fingertip at the 2012 London Games by South African Chad Le Clos.

It hurt so much that Phelps made it his mission to exact revenge in Rio and win it one last time.

"Mission accomplished," he said after claiming the 20th Olympic gold of his career, a number that became 21 after he helped the U.S. team win the 4x200 freestyle relay in the evening's finale.

Japan's Masato Sakai ran him close to collect the silver in the butterfly, while Hungary's Tamas Kenderesi won bronze.

Le Clos, whose run-up to the Games was overshadowed by the devastating news that both of his parents had been diagnosed with cancer, finished fourth.

Phelps, who would have had four successive wins in the 200 butterfly but for that London race, has now amassed a record-extending 25 Olympic medals.

Some, however, carry far more significance than others.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Victory Ceremony - Men's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 09/08/2016. Michael Phelps (USA) of USA poses with his gold medal.  REUTERS/Jeremy Lee