With that jubilant arms-aloft pose, Michael Phelps let the world know it was witnessing a historic moment.
With 21 gold medals to his credit, Phelps proved once and for all that he is the greatest Olympian of all time, the stuff legends are made of.
Regaining the 200m butterfly gold on Tuesday was the redemption Phelps had been looking for since 2012, when he lost to South African swimmer Chad le Clos.
The 200m ‘fly was the first Olympic event Phelps had competed in, so it’s especially close to his heart. In the London 2012 Games, Phelps lost to le Clos, then announced quitting the sport. He came out of retirement in 2014, and at 31-years-old, is the oldest individual gold medalist in Olympic games. Finishing first, Phelps was followed by Japan’s Masato Sakai, and in third place, Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi. Le Clos finished a surprising fourth.
But that 200m ‘fly was not all the excitement for the day. Phelps returned later for the 4 x 200m freestyle relay, and bagged another gold for team USA, as well as an Olympic record for himself.
Michael Phelps glory may not be complete just yet – he’s going for more gold to add to his treasure trove by competing in two more events in the coming week – the 4 x 100 men’s medley relay and the 200m individual medley. As the greatest Olympian himself put it, “Looking forward to the rest of the week, and I’m not even halfway done yet.”
Just for the record, Phelps is the most decorated athlete in the history of the Olympic Games, and he’s in a league of his own. He has won more than twice the number of gold medals as the athlete who is in second place, former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won nine golds.