Phelps leaves the greatest Olympian in history
Michael Phelps put the United States ahead on the butterfly leg of the 4x100 medley relay, his last race before retiring, and Nathan Adrian finished it off, giving Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, his 23rd career gold medal.
Two-time gold medalist Ryan Murphy put the Americans out front with a world-record split on the backstroke, but Britain surged ahead on the breaststroke and Phelps finished in second.
On the return lap, Phelps powered through with his butterfly stroke, moving ahead of James Guy to pass off a lead to the anchor, Adrian.
If this was indeed the end, then Phelps went out in style, with 28 medals overall, having won five golds and a silver in Rio de Janeiro.
The victory came just minutes after the women’s medley relay gave the United States its 1,000th Olympic gold medal in the history of the Summer Games.
Also on Day 8 of the games, Usain Bolt thrilled the crowd at Olympic Stadium in his first appearance of the games and Rafael Nadal’s bid for an unprecedented second Olympic singles gold medal ended with a thrill-a-minute semifinal loss to Juan Martin del Potro.
Monica Puig won Puerto Rico’s first gold medal in any sport in Olympic history, upsetting Angelique Kerber in the women’s tennis singles final. Puig is ranked 34th and is the first unseeded women’s singles gold medalist since tennis returned to the Olympics in 1988.
Seeded second, Kerber won the Australian Open in January and was the runner-up at Wimbledon last month. She was trying to give Germany its first singles gold since Steffi Graf in 1988, but instead goes home with silver.
While competitions wrapped up in swimming and rowing, they’re just heating up in track and field, where Mo Farah of Britain recovered from a fall to defend his Olympic 10,000-meter title and American Jeff Henderson overtook Luvo Manyonga of South Africa on his last jump to win the long jump gold medal.
Phelps also said the London Games were his last four years ago only to change his mind.
He insists he won’t be coming out of retirement again for Tokyo in 2020.
“I’m not going four more years and I’m standing by that,” he said. “I’ve been able to do everything I’ve ever put my mind to in the sport and after 24 years in the sport, I’m happy with how things finished.”