Michael Phelps just won his 22nd gold medal, and being the compulsive history re-writer that he is, Phelps has now broken a record that was left sleeping for 2,168 years.
Michael Phelps won the 200-meter individual medley finals tonight and his finishing time of 1:55.78 made him the winner of his career’s 13th individual gold medal.
This places him above Leonidas of Rhodes, who in 152 B.C. managed to set a record of 12 solo golds.
He has also defended the title of the best man in 200 meters IM successfully thrice.
This has led to some poignant observations on Twitter about Michael’s adroitness compared to Leonidas of ancient Olympic lore.
As Michael Phelps rushed to the call rooms to prepare for the semi-finals of the men’s 100 meters butterfly — an event scheduled within 40 minutes of his medal-winning final — his victory resonated with that of Simone Manuel.
The first African-American woman to win an individual gold at a swimming event in the Olympics, Manuel shares her gold medal with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak.
Twenty-year-old Manuel and 16-year-old Oleksiak set a new Olympic record at the 100 meter freestyle by finishing exactly at 52.70 seconds. Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden came third with a bronze.
Manuel and Phelps both broke into tears as the national anthem played while the U.S. flag was raised.
Another swimming medal won by the U.S. was the men’s 200-meter backstroke, where a superb Ryan Murphy set the Olympic record of a 1:53.62 minute finish at his maiden games.
Murphy beat Australia’s Mitch Larkin (silver) and Russia’s Evgeny Rylov (bronze). He has also won the men’s 100-meter backstroke gold at Rio 2016.
Phelps won by a large margin, but nothing astonished the global audience more than a temporal margin of breaking records older than two millennia.
In what will be his last Olympic games, Michael Phelps has been accomplishing feats that make his “greatest athlete of all time” title appear inadequate. As Time magazine puts it, the world has never seen an athletic exit as this.
After the London Olympics of 2012, Phelps fought addiction, alcoholism, and a jail stint and managed to come out an inspired and happier athlete out of rehab.
He smiles an assured smile after each bout in the pool, and cheering him on from the stands are his mother, his father, his two sisters, his friends from Baltimore, his fiancee Nicole Johnson, and most notably, his little son, Boomer Robert Phelps.
Michael Phelps still has the finals of the 100-meter butterfly to go. He has yet another chance to round off an unbelievable tally in an unbelievable life.
[Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images]