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RIO DE JANEIRO – Michael Phelps scored a spectacular double Tuesday night, further underscoring that he is primed to bow out of swimming in a blaze of golden glory.
About 70 minutes after winning gold in the 200-meter butterfly, Phelps swam a leg of the United States’ gold-medal-winning 800 freestyle relay. Phelps was not a lock to swim the event after not posting an elite-level 200 free time all year, but his spectacular performance in the 400 free relay Sunday night made him an obvious option for the 800.
Phelps swam the anchor leg with a split 1:45.26. He teamed with Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and fellow swimming legend Ryan Lochte to easily win the event in 7:00.66. Great Britain won silver in 7:03.13 while Japan took bronze in 7:03.50.
When the 31-year-old Phelps announced his most recent comeback, the expectation was for a limited number of events as a concession to his advanced age by swimming standards. But he’s now on track for six medals, and all six could be gold.
That would give Phelps four Olympic performances with six or more medals, a staggering accomplishment. He is the all-time leader in Olympic medals (25) and golds (21).
Phelps has won gold in his first three events in Rio – the 400 freestyle; the 200 butterfly; and the 800 freestyle – and still has three events remaining in his swan song Olympics: the 200 individual medley Wednesday and Thursday; the 100 butterfly Thursday and Friday; and a leg on the U.S. medley relay Saturday. By the time he is done, Phelps could put a mind-boggling 28 lifetime medals and 24 golds in the trophy case.