Ushered onto camera by the BBC, Bert le Clos let his emotions spill out as he was interviewed by presenter Claire Balding live on air.
"Unbelievable!" yelled Bert, his voice cracking. "Unbelievable, unbelievable. I have never been so happy in my life. It's something indescribable, indescribable. What’s happened tonight – it's like I've died and went to heaven and whatever happens in my life now is plain sailing. It's plain sailing."
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Le Clos came to the Olympics as a long shot, having finished fifth in the event at the 2011 world championships. Phelps was still a heavy favorite to clinch his first gold of the London Games and become the first man to win the same swimming event in three straight Olympics as the pair squared off at the Aquatics Centre at Olympic Park.
Phelps was in a marginal lead heading into the final meters but Le Clos edged him out with his final lunge for the wall to relegate the American to just the second silver of his career, following 14 golds and two bronze medals. Phelps went on to claim his 19th Olympic medal later in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay.
The American handled his defeat with class, warmly congratulating Le Clos and chatting with the emotional 20-year-old as they walked to the medal podium – with Bert looking on proudly.
"Whoa, this is it," Bert told Balding. "This is unbelievable. Look at him. He's beautiful, look at this, what a beautiful boy. He is committed like you can't believe. He's the most beautiful boy you could ever meet. Look at him he is crying like me. I love you."
Bert paused briefly to ask the commentator if the interview was live and apologized for his over excitement. He needn't have bothered. His response was not only heartwarming but turned him into an Internet sensation with his comments beamed around the world.
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