Phelps makes history with record 19th medal
By Mark Trevelyan
LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Phelps won the right to call himself the greatest Olympian of all time when the U.S. team destroyed the field in the 4x200 meters freestyle relay on Tuesday to hand him his 19th medal.
Chinese prodigy Ye Shiwen won her second gold of the Games, setting an Olympic record in the 200m individual medley, after stunning swimming pundits with her victory and world record in the 400 medley on Saturday.
But the night belonged to Phelps, who swam the anchor leg of a relay that the Americans dominated from start to finish after Ryan Lochte handed them a commanding lead.
It was a historic moment in the 116-year annals of the modern Olympic Games, and an emotional one for Phelps, still a powerful force but no longer the commanding figure who won an unprecedented eight golds at the Beijing Games in 2008.
His team mates flung their arms around him. "I thank those guys for helping me get to this moment," said the 27-year-old from Baltimore, who had 16 medals before the start of the Games.
Having picked up a silver in Sunday's 4x100 freestyle relay, he drew level with Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's tally of 18 when he won silver in his first outing of Tuesday night, in the 200 meters butterfly.
The American led going into the last few meters of his favorite race, but was tiring rapidly and had to settle for second when South Africa's Chad Le Clos ploughed through to snatch it on the final touch.
Watching at poolside was Latynina, 77, who has held the record for decades with her haul from the Games at Melbourne (1956), Rome (1960) and Tokyo (1964). Continued...