RIO DE JANEIRO – For the fourth consecutive and final time, Michael Phelps won Olympic gold in the 200-meter individual medley. His longtime rival and teammate Ryan Lochte, however, isn’t joining him on the podium.
The two men had dominated the event for 12 years internationally as an Olympic IM tandem, but Lochte faded late in the event at the Rio Games and finished fifth. Phelps came in with a time of 1:54:66 to become the first swimmer to win the same event in four straight Olympics.
“I say this a lot, but every single day I’m living a dream come true,” Phelps said. “As a kid I wanted to do something that no one had ever done before and I’m enjoying it. Being able to finish how I won is just something very special to me and this is why you are seeing more and more emotion on the medal podium.”
Japanese star Kosuke Hagino, who won the 400 IM earlier in the meet, was second with a time of 1:56:61. Shun Wang of China landed the bronze medal, finishing at 1:57:05.
The only other Olympians to accomplish the four-straight feat are Americans Carl Lewis (long jump, 1984-96) and Al Oerter (discus 1956-68). Phelps will have a chance to do it again Friday night in the 100 butterfly.
Phelps now has four gold medals in his comeback Olympics, with chances for two more. His all-time medal count now stands at 22 golds and 26 total – both records.
For Lochte, it was a disappointing end. He won the silver medal in the 200 IM in 2004 and ’12, and bronze in ’08. Lochte remains the world-record holder in the event, but he fizzled late on Thursday and has not been able to defeat the most decorated of all Olympians on the biggest stage.