One for the Ages: Phelps Nabs 23rd—and Final?—Gold

Swimmer achieves legend as he closes out his 5th Games
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 14, 2016 1:03 AM CDT
One for the Ages: Phelps Nabs 23rd—and Final?—Gold
United States' Michael Phelps prepares to enter the water in the men's 4 x 100-meter medley relay final during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.    (Lee Jin-man)

Standing atop the medal podium for the 23rd time, Michael Phelps teared up, bit his lip, and gave a little nod. This was how he really wanted to go out. On top of his game in the water. Totally content away from the pool. "It turned out pretty cool," Phelps said, another gold medal around his neck. "It's just a perfect way to finish." Phelps put the United States ahead to stay on the butterfly leg of the 4x100-meter medley relay, reports the AP, giving the most decorated athlete in Olympic history his 23rd career gold medal Saturday night. If that was the end, and Phelps insists it is, the numbers are simply astonishing. No other Olympian has more than nine gold medals. With 28 medals in all, he's 10 clear of anyone else. "It's not even once in a generation," said his coach, Bob Bowman. "It might be once in 10 generations that someone like Michael Phelps comes along."

One night after his only setback of the games, an upset loss to Joseph Schooling in the 100 fly, Phelps was back on top. At age 31, he leaves Rio with five golds and a silver. "I wouldn't change anything," he said. "This is the best place I've ever been in my life." In the stands, his fiancee, Nicole Johnson, bounced along to the music with their son, 3-month-old Boomer, cradled in her arms. Phelps is eager to spend a lot more time with them. He plans to marry Johnson after the Olympics and said he wants to watch his son grow, maybe even dole out a swimming lesson or two. And what if Boomer wants to take all those medals to show-and-tell someday? "I might let him take one," Phelps said with a grin. "Maybe a bronze," Bowman chimed in. (More Michael Phelps stories.)

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