Swimming: Phelps wins last relay gold as U.S. dominate

Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:45am EDT
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By Mark Trevelyan, Alan Baldwin and Mark Bendeich

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Michael Phelps captured his 23rd and final Olympic gold medal on Saturday as the United States sealed a week of dominance in the pool by winning the men's and women's medley relays.

Denmark's Pernille Blume beat a field of world and Olympic champions to take gold in the women's 50 freestyle and Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri won the men's 1,500 freestyle after dominating almost from the start.

But it was Phelps who stole the show yet again when he sprang from the block to swim the butterfly leg of the 4x100 medley relay, recapturing the lead from Britain and setting up yet another U.S. victory, after Ryan Murphy had led off by breaking the world backstroke record.

"I walked to the pool tonight and I almost felt myself starting to cry - the last warm-up, the last time putting on a suit, the last time walking out in front of thousands of people representing my country," Phelps, 31, said of his final swim in his fifth Olympics.

He ended the week with five golds and a silver, improving on his tally in London four years ago when he came away with four golds - half his tally in Beijing in 2008 - and felt he had failed to do himself full justice, prompting him to come back from retirement in 2014.

"This is the way I wanted to finish my career," he said.

His career medal haul of 28, including three silvers and two bronze, is 10 higher than Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, the second most-decorated Olympic athlete.

Phelps' long-time coach Bob Bowman said swimming was unlikely to see anyone of his sort again.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Final - Men's 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 13/08/2016. Michael Phelps (USA) of USA reacts.  REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler