In a changing of the guard that left him totally at peace, Phelps was beaten by a 21-year-old who grew up idolizing the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.
UPSET ALERT: Michael Phelps Ties for Silver in 100-Meter Butterfly, Losing to Singapore’s Joseph Schooling
Michael Phelps is not used to coming in second. Therefore, the world held its breath as he stood beside the top step of the medal stand and the Rio Olympics.
In a changing of the guard that left him totally at peace, Phelps was beaten by a 21-year-old who grew up idolizing the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. Joseph Schooling of Singapore built a big lead in the 100-meter butterfly and easily held off one of Phelps’ patented comebacks, leaving him at 22 gold medals with one race, a relay, left to go.
And that will be his final event, Phelps insisted. No more comebacks.
“I’m not going four more years and I’m standing by that,” he said. “I’ve been able to do everything I’ve ever put my mind to in the sport and after 24 years in the sport, I’m happy with how things finished.”
Phelps threatened to retire before following the 1012 London Games, but after about 12 months he began to consider a return to swimming.
This time seems different as he hugged the winner, Joseph Schooling of Singapore. Phelps’ smile was so much more convincing this time.
Michael became a father to Boomer 3 months ago and is planning to marry his fiancee, Nicole Johnson.
He’s ready to move on, and this time he really seems to mean it.
“I’m happy,” Phelps said. “I’m ready to spend some time with Boomer and Nicole and watch the little dude grow.”
This being Phelps, he had to do something out of the ordinary, even in defeat.
He was part of the first three-way tie for silver in Olympic swimming history, joined on the next-highest step by longtime foes Chad le Clos of South Africa and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary. They all touched in 51.14 seconds, which was actually faster than Phelps’ gold medal-winning time in 2012.
They clasped hands and stepped up together.
Then they all looked up to Schooling, receiving the gold for his blistering time of 50.39.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Schooling said. “I don’t know what to believe, like, whether I actually did it or I’m still preparing for my race.”
What made it even more special: Schooling still has a picture that he took with Phelps when the U.S. team trained in Singapore before the 2008 Olympics, the games where Phelps won a record eight gold medals in the pinnacle of his career.
Joseph Schooling, who posed with his childhood idol Michael Phelps in 2008, beat him Friday to win a Gold medal in Rio. HANDOUT / Reuters
“That’s pretty crazy, what happens in eight years,” said Schooling, who attends the University of Texas. “I’m just honored and privileged to have the chance to race alongside him.”
‘Special’ Gold No. 23 Ends Michael Phelps’ Olympic Career
Michael Phelps has 4 gold medals at the Rio Games and 23 for his career,
When his last race was won, after he celebrated briefly with his 4×100-meter medley teammates Saturday, Michael Phelps doubled over in exhaustion and emotion behind the starting block.
“That’s really when everything started to hit me,” he said, “knowing it was the last time I’ll wear the stars and stripes in a race.”
He had tears when he raised his arms to the Olympic Aquatics Stadium crowd as he walked off the pool deck. They welled up again when the fans greeted his last step up on an Olympic podium with a roar.
“It’s not even once in a generation, it might be once in 10 generations that someone like Michael comes along,” said Phelps’ longtime coach, Bob Bowman.