The Phelps Story
200 butterfly in 5 different Olympics:
As a high performance athlete, going to the Olympics is the highest achievement you can make. According to the World Economic Forum only 11,500 athletes competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, representing just 0.00014% of the world’s population. Certainly, just the ones who are willing to put in hard work and discipline are the ones who achieve it.
However, there is a big difference between going to just one Olympics representing your country and doing that 5 consecutive times.
According to BBC the probability of a person to win gold in 100 meter athletics is 1 in 9 million. Michael Phelps defeated all the odds and due his passion, technique, discipline, ability, willingness and many other factors, he became the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 Olympic Medals. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics Phelps won Gold in all his 8 events in which he participated: 100 and 200 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 200 IM and 400 IM, 4×100 and 4×200 free relays, and 4×100 medley relay.
The men’s 200 butterfly was the first event that Michael raced at the Olympics when he was only 15 years of age. He finished in 5th place at the Sydney Games in a time of 1:56.50.
In 2004 at the Athens Olympic Games, Michael improved more than two seconds and won the men’s 200 butterfly in an Olympic Record Time of 1:54.04. At this point in his career and at only 19 years old, he had already been in 2 consecutive finals in the same event and became Olympic Champion.
4 years later, Michael entered the Beijing Olympics as the main favorite to win the 200 meter butterfly. He won the race in a WR time of 1:52.03. This Gold Medal was part of his 8 Gold medal collection that he achieved at these games.
Finally, 4 years later at the 2012 London Olympics Michael entered the 200 meter butterfly final with the mentality of being his last final and Olympic Games. The years before the games certainly weren’t the best for the American, however, he still was able to achieved the Olympic final. Every single person in the world thought that Michael was going to win for the 3rd consecutive time, nevertheless, nobody considered a motivated and talented kid from South Africa named Chad le Clos. In the last 5 meters of the race the swimmer from South Africa closed extremely fast and it was during the touch where everything was decided.
Considering his experience, Phelps did not touch the wall as he was supposed to, giving le Clos the opportunity to win the gold medal in a time of 1:52.98
Phelps seemed disappointed after the race and even though he already was the most decorated Olympian of all time, he knew he could have retired with a gold in his favorite event: the 200 meter butterfly.
He announced his retirement from swimming after the London Olympics, nevertheless, he knew he still had something left to give. Not only to people, but to himself.
In 2014, he came back. He put in the hard work again and in Rio 2016 he qualified for his 5th Olympic team. At the games, he reclaimed his Olympic title in the men’s 200 meter butterfly.
Last update: June, 2022
Professional Sports Analyst and Journalist