Michael Phelps captured his 20th Olympic gold medal in devastating fashion Tuesday, sealing victory with a kiss, before adding a staggering 21st before the night was over.
The American crushed rival Chad le Clos to regain his 200 metres butterfly title, celebrating victory in a race bristling with tension by pointing to the sky and gesturing to the Rio crowd to “bring the noise” — an order they duly obeyed.
Katinka Hosszu and Katie Ledecky struck further blows for girl power, but again it was all about Phelps, who later anchored the American 4×200 freestyle relay team to gold as the clock edged toward midnight local time.
Milking the acclaim of the Brazilian crowd, Phelps climbed past the massed bank of poolside photographers to kiss fiancee Nicole and baby Boomer after an emotional medals ceremony.
Entering the arena like a gladiator, his face a granite mask of concentration, Phelps dominated a grudge final le Clos had billed as “Ali versus Frazier” to become the oldest individual swimming gold medallist in Olympic history at 31.
South African Le Clos, who won by a fingertip four years ago in London to rob the American of a hat-trick of titles, faded badly down the stretch to finish out of the medals.
World record holder Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, clocked 1min 53.36sec to add to his staggering title tally as Japan’s Masato Sakai came through for a surprise silver in 1:53.40. Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi took bronze in 1:53.62.
Competing in his fifth and final Olympics, victory was twice as sweet for Phelps after clashing with le Clos in the media since losing to the South African in their epic tussle in London.
Phelps won his 19th Olympic gold in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay at the weekend and if he feels greedy, there is more potential gold for him in the 100m fly and the 200m individual medley — events he has incredibly won at the past three Olympics.
Still, Phelps was not done, putting the finishing touch to an easy win in the 4x200m free, cruising home almost two and a half seconds ahead of Britain’s James Guy in the swimming equivalent of baseball’s home-run trot around the bases.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to the latest exploits of the greatest Olympian…
Most Olympic Gold Medals— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 10, 2016
Michael Phelps 20
Carl Lewis 9
Mark Spitz 9
Larisa Latynina 9
Paavo Nurmi 9 pic.twitter.com/uRjhBRWeFO
4/100ths of a second!— ESPN (@espn) August 10, 2016
Phelps' 20th gold was the smallest margin of victory in 200m butterfly in Olympic history. pic.twitter.com/f1nQ5rpWJt
I think #MichaelPhelps needs to abide by different rules to make things fair. He must be forced to swim against a current - with sharks.— Joe Randleman (@JoeRandleman) August 10, 2016
I know Michael Phelps is taking over Rio, but now this is just getting silly. pic.twitter.com/54AS3xV5oX— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) August 10, 2016
— Chandler Reynolds (@whatsCucciO) August 10, 2016
New Zealand rower Eric Murray joined the throngs chasing after Pokemon recently. But it’ll be the rest of the field who’ll be likely chasing him and partner Hamish Bond in the men’s pair final on Thursday.
“Everyone watched Pokemon on TV and it was a bit of a cultural craze when I was a young kid,” Murray said when asked about his latest addiction.
“It’s one of those things that pulls out the child in you… In some respects I’m a bit of a sheep, I tried it and liked it,” added the 34-year-old Kiwi.
The pair are far from sheep-like when it comes to rowing, however, having notched up an incredible unbeaten streak of 68 races, dating back to 2009 and winning six world titles along the way.
As a result, the defending Olympic champions are overwhelming favourites to take the gold once again at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio on Thursday.
They cruised through their semi-final on Tuesday, winning by over three seconds ahead of Great Britain and South Africa to book their place in yet another final.
“We’re not going to approach it any differently. We always go out to win every race, so it’s basically going to be the same,” explained Bond, whose younger brother, Alistair, is also in the New Zealand rowing team – in the lightweight four.
Speaking about the challenging conditions that the rowers have faced in Rio, where a full day’s events were postponed on Sunday because of strong winds and rough water, Murray said: “Every place has its challenges. There are a few more challenges here but overall the water’s still water.
“I think it’ll be pretty fair. Generally we’d probably back ourselves in challenging conditions. We’ve been training in some challenging conditions recently,” he added.
As for what makes the exceptional New Zealand crew so successful, Murray joked: “I think we’re just better-looking.
“We don’t do a hell of a lot different from everyone else. They train hard, we train harder. We’ve just tried to refine our technique and training philosophy to go faster.
“Not only the Olympics, but every race, you have an expectation of how you’re going to go and most people have a realistic expectation,” Murray said. “We just set our expectation very high and that’s to go out and win. That’s just how it is. There’s only one thing we can do, and that’s meet that expectation.”
Aiming to prevent that from happening will be crews from Great Britain, Italy, South Africa, France and Australia.
Sergiu Toma claimed the UAE’s second-ever Olympic medal and first since 2004 with a heroic journey to a historic bronze in the under-81kg judo at the Rio Games on Tuesday night.
The only other UAE Olympic medal came in 2004 when Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher Al Maktoum took double trap gold in Athens.
Toma’s exploits at the Carioca Arena 2 in Rio on Tuesday have added to the nation’s history at the Olympics and he was in tears as he celebrated a hard-fought victory in the bronze-medal match.
“Since 2013, we’ve been meticulously planning for this moment,” Naser Al Tamimi, the secretary general of the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Kick Boxing Federation told Sport360°. “We’ve been nervous each day, and every single moment and it really is an indescribable feeling.
“The most important thing is that we achieved our goal and that we’ve managed to bring happiness to all UAE people.”
Sergiu Toma takes 81kg judo bronze, winning the UAE just a second Olympic medal in history and first since 2004 pic.twitter.com/XHTcicXWKd— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) August 9, 2016
The 29-year-old, originally from Moldova but a naturalised Emirati since 2013, took out Germany’s Sven Maresch in his opening bout, before overcoming Brazilian ex-world No1 Victor Penalber followed by victory over reigning Japan’s world champion Nagase Takanori en route to the semi-finals.
Toma lost to eventual gold medallist Khasan Khalmurzaev of Russia in the semis but triumphed over Italian Matteo Marconcini to capture the bronze medal with a sumi-gaeshi for ippon.
“This is the result of huge effort we’ve been putting in at the federation for a long time,” Mohamed bin Thaaloob Al Derei, the president of the UAE federation, told Abu Dhabi Sports channel.
“We have professional staff that is of very high level and have organised lots of world-class events.
“This achievement is credit to the federation, to the ministry of sport, to the UAE Olympic Committee, to every athlete who has worked hard.
“It is an achievement that brings happiness to all of us, to all Arabs and all Emiratis. Hopefully it’s just the start.
“Our goal is to create role models for our young Emiratis to look up to, so when they see there is an Olympic medallist from the UAE, they can get motivated to try and do the same.”
Khalmurzaev maintained his perfect record this year by taking gold yesterday.
The Russian has won all 20 bouts he’s had in 2016, taking his victory streak to 23 in total.
He beat American Travis Stevens in the final with an inner leg throw for a perfect ippon score.
Toma’s medal was the first by an Arab country this week at the Rio Olympics.
The UAE has another shot at a medal through another naturalised Moldovan, Ivan Remarenco, who takes part in the -100kg action on Thursday, opening his campaign against Algeria’s Lyes Bouyakoub.