Michael Phelps Breaks Record For Most Olympic Medals Of All Time
Michael Phelps is not only the greatest Olympic swimmer in history, but as of Tuesday's 4x200m relay event, which won him and the U.S. team the gold medal, he officially became the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 19 medals,15 of them gold, two silver and two bronze. Less than an hour before, Phelps placed second in the 200 butterfly, earning one of those two silvers, which tied him with previous Olympic champion, Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, 77, who won 18 medals in her 1950s-'60s Olympic career.
Nine of Latynina's Olympic medals are gold, compared to Phelps' 15. This is Phelps' first gold in the 2012 games, and it catapults him into the title of the greatest Olympian in the 112 history of the Olympic games, reports Newsday.
Ryan Lochte was the first swimmer in the U.S. team relay, followed by Connor Dwyer and Ricky Berens, before Phelps brought it home, secured gold for the team and carved out an unforgettable place for himself in history.
While Phelps' second-place finish in the 200 butterfly on Tuesday didn't score him a gold medal, the silver nod was enough to earn the consummate Olympic swimmer his 18th medal, tying him with Latynina. No matter what the medals suggest, however, Latynina still considers herself the greatest Olympian.
"Do I think I am still the greatest Olympian?" Latynina said in a translated interview with Yahoo! Sports. "Why yes, but that is my opinion. Why do I think this? Well, I did not only compete in three Olympic Games and won many medals, but the Soviet Union team had very great success when I was the coach." Latynina referred to the 10 gold medals the Soviet Union claimed when she coached in the 1970s.
That doesn't mean that Latynina has anything against Phelps, who has finally broken her record. "I am prepared," Latynina said about having her record broken. "I am ready for this. I have had this record for a long time." As for Phelps himself, "I have met him and I liked him. He was a nice person and, of course, he is a great swimmer. It is special what he has done."
For more on Michael Phelps and the 2012 Olympics: