Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte finish 1-2 in 200 M: American swimming machine on top of the world!

Erik Brady, USA TODAY

LONDON – Michael Phelps bit his lip on the victory stand as the anthem played, his eyes full. They called him an automaton when he couldn’t lose in Beijing. Here, he’s a sentimental fool.

“I have let myself shed a tear now and then,” Phelps allowed of his Goodbye Games.

Phelps beat rival Ryan Lochte in the 200-meter individual medley Thursday night, the first time any man has won an individual swimming event at three consecutive Games.

“Cool to add to my resume,” he said, a satisfied smile suggesting this was more than mere grace note. The man who has made so much history clearly craved even more.

His rivalry with Lochte was a drumbeat leading up to these Games. Lochte said to all who would listen that this was his time. And he made good on the first night of the Olympic meet, winning gold as Phelps came fourth, missing a medal, showing his age.

But Thursday the rivalry fizzled a bit. Lochte came third to teammate Tyler Clary in the 200 back, his signature event, roughly half an hour before his rematch with Phelps. And Phelps led wire to wire in the 200 IM, with Lochte second.

When it was done, Phelps hung on the lane marker. He didn’t pound the water in celebration, as of old. Was he tired, or just respectful of his rival? Phelps, 27, reached out to Lochte and they clasped hands. That was it. They’ll never race again.

Lochte, who turns 28 Friday, said he’s going on to Rio in 2016. Phelps reiterated what he’s said all along: He’ll never race competitively after London. No club races, no senior races. Maybe he’d have a match race with Bubba Watson, the golfer who texted that Phelps can’t play golf, but that’s all.

Asked to rate his performance in London, Lochte responded, “a little above average.” That’s a far cry from what he’d wanted.

“Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t,” Lochte said. “But overall, I can’t be too disappointed. I am coming home to my country with five Olympic medals.”

Read full article at USA Today.

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~ by Rafael Martel on August 2, 2012.

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