In an unforgettable display of Olympic power, Michael Phelps won two more finals to take his historic all-time record load to 21 golds and cement his legendary status.
Phelps beat Japan’s Masato Sakai by just 0.04 seconds to take the 200m butterfly and later anchored the US 4x200m freestyle relay team to victory. At 31 — the oldest individual Olympic swimming gold medalist ever — Phelps is still the master of the pool.
After claiming his 20th title in five Olympics — beating old rival Chad le Clos in the process — Phelps stood in the water striking a pose like a Roman emperor, soaking up the acclaim.
The 200m butterfly was his first world record in 2001 and he was determined to win back the Olympic title he lost to South Africa’s Le Clos in 2012.
However, Phelps said that was also the last time he would race it.
“That event is kind of like my bread and butter,” Phelps said. “There wasn’t a shot in hell I was losing that race and if I did, I was leaving everything in the pool.”
Even a late wardrobe malfunction could not stop Phelps from winning his 21st gold.
The most medaled Olympian of all time, now with an unprecedented collection of 25, tore his swim cap in half as he was putting it on just before the start of the freestyle relay.
Teammate Conor Dwyer swam the opening leg and then handed over his cap, turning it inside out to avoid any conflict with rival sponsors.
Phelps wears his own MP brand made by Italian company Aqua Sphere.
“I finished my leg and he tapped me on the shoulder when I was cheering Townley [Haas] on,” Dwyer told reporters. “I heard him say: ‘Diddy, look at my cap. I don’t have a cap.’ So I handed him mine.”
“We all have ... different sponsors, so I think he had to wear just an all-black cap, so we reversed it and put on,” Dwyer said. “We’ve seen that guy go through a lot of adversity, from winning gold medals without goggles, so I think a different cap won’t stop that guy from having a good split [time].”
Dwyer had handed over to Haas in the relay, who was then followed by Ryan Lochte before Phelps swam the anchor leg to victory.
In the butterfly final at the 2008 Beijing Games Phelps won gold despite swimming with water-filled goggles that left him having to count his strokes.
In other sports, the US are looking forward to a new era of gymnastics domination, with Simone Biles making a flying start to her bid for five Rio Olympic golds.
Biles helped the US women’s team to victory by eight points over Russia.
“It’s everything and more than I’d hoped it to be,” said the tiny 19-year-old Texan, who has set gymnastics alight with 10 world titles in the past three years.
As her Olympic odyssey got under way, another crumbled as defending tennis champion Serena Williams suffered a shock 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the third round.
Williams, hampered by a shoulder injury, served five double faults in one game of the second set as her own bid to reach five gold medals ended.
The 34-year-old and her sister Venus were knocked out of the women’s doubles, the three-time champions’ first ever defeat together in Olympic competition.
“It was a great opportunity. It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but at least I was able to make it to Rio. That was one of my goals,” Serena said.
NIGHT OF FIRSTS: In the first official game at the Tapei Dome on Sunday, not only did Taiwan notch a win over South Korea, they also recorded the stadium’s first hit and RBI The Philippines yesterday dominated Thailand 14-4 at the Taipei Dome in the opening game of Group B on the second day of the Asian Baseball Championship, while Palestine pipped Hong Kong 3-1 in Taichung in Group A. World No. 35 the Philippines put themselves on the board early, racking up two runs in the first inning, followed by two in the third, one each in the fourth and fifth, and three in the sixth. Thailand, ranked 43rd in the world, did not get on the board until the top of the seventh inning, when they tried to stage a comeback, putting up
TROUNCED: Taiwan beat Palestine in six innnings on day three of the Asia Baseball Championship, while it took just five innings for Japan to defeat Thailand Taiwan yesterday beat Palestine 19-0 at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on the third day of the Asian Baseball Championship. The Group A game was over in six innings after a 6:03pm start. Taiwan went on the offensive from the first inning, scoring three runs, but the real damage was done in the third inning, when they scored seven. The Palestine players are all studying or working in the US. In another duel between two unevenly matched teams, Japan thrashed Thailand 16-0 in their late Group B game at the Taipei Dome. They won in five innings thanks to the mercy rule, which states
NATIONS LEAGUE: England crushed Scotland 6-0, but their Olympic hopes were ruined when the Netherlands beat them on goal difference with a 4-0 win against Belgium Germany and the Netherlands on Tuesday booked their places at the UEFA Women’s Nations League finals , where they are also to fight for spots at next year’s Paris Games, but there was heartbreak for England whose hopes of competing in the Olympics were dashed, despite beating Scotland 6-0. Germany drew 0-0 in Wales, but secured their passage thanks to Iceland’s 1-0 win over Denmark. The Netherlands needed a 95th-minute goal from Damaris Egurrola to see them to a 4-0 win over Belgium which meant they edged England on goal difference in Group A1 after the FIFA Women’s World Cup runners-up hammered
SANTOS RELEGATED: Pele’s former team finished with a loss that prompted fans to attempt to invade the pitch, forcing the players to run for the locker rooms One of the most exciting seasons of the Brazilian league ended on Wednesday with the most stable team of the year defending their title and the club that was home to Pele relegated for the first time. Palmeiras drew 1-1 against Cruzeiro to be crowned Brazilian champions for the 12th time. Endrick, 18, scored his 11th goal of the season to give Palmeiras an early lead and Nikao equalized in the 80th minute at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte. Santos’ relegation following a 2-1 home loss to Fortaleza was another setback for the club at the stadium where Pele’s funeral took place