Michael Phelps, the 14-time gold medalist, suffered his first Olympic defeat in eight years! His first loss came in the 400-meter individual medley, which he had dominated in the past two Summer Olympics. This time it was Ryan Lochte, his fellow countryman and strongest rival, who took home the glory. If that wasn’t shocking enough, Michael Phelps failed to even obtained a bronze medal. He only managed a fourth place finish and was left without a single medal. The last time when he failed to win a medal was way back when he debuted in Sydney at 15 years old!
No one was even close to Ryan Lochte when he touched the finish line. He dominated the race from start to finish. In fact, he was even ahead of Michael’s world-record pace for most of the race. Unfortunately, he was unable to set a new world record when he faltered in the freestyle leg. His timing of 4:05.18 was more than a second behind what Michael had set in Beijing. Nonetheless, he still came up on top of Michael and picked up the gold medal.
What was unexpected was Michael not even attaining a medal at all. If you have been following, you would be aware of the close rivalry between himself and Ryan. One would have easily assumed that both would take the top two spots. However, this wasn’t the case on Saturday. It was during the morning heats that raise initial concerns when Michael barely made it through the qualifying heats. Nonetheless, most brushed it off, believing that he had misjudged his time and will correct it in the evening race. Many were wrong as Michael just appeared to be just like any other swimmer in Lane 8.
If you actually watched the event unfolded, you would have noticed quite a number of shock faces in the audience. The 400-meter individual medley was Michael Phelps strongest events during his prime. In fact, he didn’t lose at any major competition for more than five years. So how did he managed to finish behind Thiago Pereira of Brazil and Kosuke Hagino of Japan, who finished in second and third, respectively.
Although this may be his first event in the Olympics, the loss has put him three medals behind Larisa Latynina, who holds the record for the most medals won in Olympic history. His next individual final event will be on Tuesday night. It is none other than the 200 butterfly, an event where he has won for the past two consecutive Olympics. Although he is not expected to lose this, anything can happen just like the 400 IM.
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