Michael Phelps Wins Record 20th Medal; Soni Sets Record In Breaststroke
Breaking News Update at 3:27 p.m. ET: Phelps Wins Gold For 20th Medal.
Michael Phelps has won the men's 200-meter individual medley at the 2012 Summer Games, winning his 20th Olympic medal — and his first individual gold medal in London.
Phelps led Lochte by .16 of one second at the first turn, in the butterfly. He maintained his lead in the backstroke — the discipline Lochte had just raced in half an hour earlier in the day.
Phelps was close to world-record pace throughout the race, maintaining his lead through the breaststroke and freestyle. But at 1:54.27, he finished just short of the record held by Lochte, who finished second to take the silver medal.
Phelps swam in the third lane, right next to Loche, in lane four. Next to them was Laszlo Cseh, who finished third.
The event is Lochte's final individual event at the London Games.
Correction: Early versions of this story had a headline that incorrectly stated Phelps had won 20 gold medals. As readers helpfully pointed out, that's not true. Phelps has won 16 Olympic gold medals, and 20 total. I regret the error.
Update at 4:10 p.m. ET: With the victory, Phelps also achieved an unprecedented feat: winning the same individual swimming event in three consecutive Olympics.
And the race also represented his last Olympic showdown with his friend and teammate, Lochte.
As for the two Americans' remaining events, Phelps will try for another medal Friday, in the finals of the 100m butterfly. He won his semifinal heat moments after winning the individual medley.
And while both swimmers are eligible for the U.S. medley relay, it's not clear whether Lochte will get a spot on the team.
Update at 3:48 p.m. ET:
Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo won the women's 100m freestyle gold medal, beating a field that included Americans Jessica Hardy and Missy Franklin. Kromowidjojo set a new Olympic record of 53.00 seconds, beating Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus and Yi Tang of China. Franklin placed fifth, at 53.64 seconds, and Hardy finished eighth.
Our original post continues:
American Rebecca Soni has won a gold medal at the London Summer Olympics, winning the women's 200-meter breaststroke in a race that she led from start to finish. She also set a new world record, at 2 minutes and 19.59 seconds.
Update at 3 p.m. ET: Tyler Clary has won gold in the 200m backstroke, defeating Team USA teammate Ryan Lochte, who won bronze, and Japan's Ryosuke Irie, who won silver. Clary set a new Olympic record with his winning time of 1:53.41. Irie was .37 of one second behind, and Lochte trailed by .53.
Lochte's race began just 31 minutes before the scheduled start of his heralded race against teammate Michael Phelps, in the 200-meter individual medley.
The women's breaststroke win is a vindication for Soni, 25, who lost to Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte in the 100-meter breaststroke. Meilytyte did not enter the 200-meter event, in which Soni is the defending gold medalist from the 2008 Beijing Games.
In taking charge of Thursday's final, Soni broke the world record of 2 minutes and 20 seconds that she had set in her qualifying race Wednesday evening.
In an interview of Soni by NPR's Margot Adler earlier this year, Soni described how she was working on her starts, and her turns. And she also revealed that she'd also finally learned how to take a day off from her rigorous training.
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