Phelps raises the bar even higher

Thu, Aug 2, 2012, 01:00

Olympic Swimming: Michael Phelps claimed the 16th Olympic gold medal of his career and 20th in total with a thrilling victory in the 200 metres individual medley. The American led from start to finish and held off team-mate Ryan Lochte down the final freestyle leg to win in one minute 54.27 seconds, just 0.04 outside his own Olympic record.

It means Phelps is the first man to win the event at three consecutive Games and comes just 48 hours after he won his 18th and 19th Olympic medals to overtake Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina, who held the previous record with 18.

Lochte took silver in 1:54.90, with Hungary's Laszlo Cseh taking bronze. Britain's James Goddard was seventh in 1:59.05.

"To be able to win the gold medal and repeat three times is something pretty special," Phelps said. "I'm pretty pleased with gold."

Lochte beat Phelps in the 400 medley on the opening night of the swimming but was close to exhaustion in their second highly-anticipated clash after competing in the 200m backstroke final half an hour before the medley.

"I can't complain. I'm bringing home five Olympic medals," said Lochte, who won two gold, two silver and a bronze in London. "I've had some ups and downs but I'll take it."

Tyler Clarywon the 200m backstroke ahead of Japan's Ryosuke Irie and Lochte, after Rebecca Sonihad claimed gold in the 200m breaststroke by smashing her own world record.

Soni was a massive odds-on favourite after setting a world record of two minutes 20.00 seconds in yesterday's semi-finals, and fully justified her status with a commanding performance.

The 25-year-old took control of the race after the opening length and touched in a time of 2:19.59secs, slicing more than four tenths of a second off her previous time. Japan's Satomi Suzuki claimed silver with Russian Iuliia Efimova taking bronze.

"I wasn't trying to focus on records or medals or anything, I just wanted to swim one more race the way I knew I could," Soni said. "It has been my goal since I was a little girl to swim under 2.20, my coach told me I could be the first woman to swim 2.19 and I have been chasing it ever since and I am just so happy."

Holland's Ranomi Kromowidjojo ensured there would not be an American clean sweep of the evening's four finals, powering to victory in the 100m freestyle and lowering her Olympic record - set 24 hours earlier - to 53.00.

The 21-year-old was only fourth at the turn but stormed down the final length to finish ahead of Aliaksandra Herasimenia and China's Yi Tang.

Britain's Fran Halsall was fastest off the blocks but eventually finished sixth in 53.66, leaving the home nation with just two medals so far in the pool.

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