Michael Phelps won his 22nd career gold medal in spectacular fashion Thursday, demolishing his rivals in the 200m individual medley.
Rio is the fourth straight Olympics Phelps has taken gold in the event, and he did so by a wide margin, far outpacing the rest of the field. Silver medalist Kosuke Hagino of Japan trailed Phelps by nearly a body-length. China’s Wang Shun took bronze. Lochte, Phelps’ longtime friend and rival, finished a disappointing fifth.
The win gave Phelps his 13th individual gold medal–an Olympic record that burnishes his title as the world’s most decorated Olympian.
Phelps wasn’t the lone American to win gold Thursday. Ryan Murphy won his second gold of these Olympics, in the 200-m backstroke: Americans have now won the event in six straight Olympics. He set the Olympic record in the 100-m backstroke on Monday.
For Team USA, the night was tinged with disappointment. Missy Franklin failed to advance to the 200-m backstroke final after setting a world record in event at the London Games. Her semifinal time, 2.09.74, was nearly six seconds slower than what she swam in London.
Rie Kaneto, of Japan, won the women’s 200-m breaststroke.
Phelps is now a perfect 4-for-4 in Olympic finals in Rio – two relay golds, two individual golds. His exit from the Olympic stage has been stunning, and singular in sports. He’s dropping gold medals in his basket like a Halloween trick or treater. “I mean, what do you do with all those medals?” says Dara Torres, a 12-time Olympic medal winner in the pool. “Ah, give them to this friend, my mom, my sisters, my son now.”