After facing more than his fair share of scrutiny from quick-to-judge critics, while also temporarily giving up the spotlight to fellow USA teammate Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps now has something to deservingly share with the world: he is the most successful Olympian of all time.
Phelps earned his 19th medal Tuesday night, July 31, in the 200 meter butterfly and less than two hours later scored his 19th medal, gold in the 4x200 freestyle relay.
Leading for most of the race, Phelps came in at second place to South African swimmer Chad le Clos, and earned the silver medal. While the silver medal is usually nothing to fret about, Phelps clearly sported a disappointing look on his face after realizing the results of the race.
The silver medal officially tied Phelps with Soviet gymnast Laris Latynina for the most Olympics medals all time. The Soviet gymnast stood alone as the all time Olympic medal leader for over 50 years since her last Olympic appearance in 1964.
Phelps quickly brushed off the disappointment and to no avail broke Latynina's record in the same night he tied it.
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The United States earned a gold medal in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay less than two hours after Phelps placed second in the 200 meter butterfly. The winning United States team featured Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, Ricky Berens, and Phelps, who swam last as the anchor.
The team effort helped boost Phelps past Latynina to give him 19 total Olympic medals. In four Olympic appearances beginning in 2000, Phelps has earned 15 gold medals, two silver medals, and two bronze medals. The 27 year old Baltimore native's records also include most career Olympic gold medals, most gold medals in a single Olympics, and most gold medals in an individual event.