Michael Phelps ready to reclaim that lost butterfly gold

  • Reuters, Rio de Janeiro
  • Updated: Aug 09, 2016 13:19 IST
USA's Michael Phelps competes in the Men's 200m Butterfly semi-final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. (AFP)

The Rio Olympics may be a swansong for Michael Phelps but the American swimming great is showing no signs of going gentle into the night.

On Monday, the 31-year-old proved he is in fighting form for his 200 metres butterfly rematch with Chad le Clos, the South African who four years ago denied him a third consecutive gold medal in the event.

World and Olympic record holder Phelps led throughout most of Monday’s semi-final before being pipped in the last 25 metres by Tamas Kenderesi of Hungary, who finished 0.16 ahead of the American.

Le Clos finished fourth, more than a second behind Phelps, though he had raced in the 200 freestyle final a short time before and won silver.

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, retired after 2012 but got back into the game two years later.

Read | Michael Phelps sets sights on record-breaking 20th Olympic gold

There have been question marks over his character after he was photographed with a marijuana pipe in 2009 and pleaded guilty to a drunk driving charge in 2014, his second offense in 10 years.

He got off to a good start in Rio, winning his 19th gold on Sunday night in the 4x100 freestyle. Phelps said he was fighting aches and a tight turnaround between the late-night race and the butterfly qualifying heats on Monday.

To deal with the pain he turned again to cupping, a Chinese healing technique, that has left his upper body full of purple bruises, much commented on social media. He also said he thought he could do well on Monday after a quick nap.

It appeared to have worked out just as he planned.

“Getting a two-hour nap at home felt amazing,” said Phelps. “Should be a fun race tomorrow.”

Le Clos, who beat Phelps by 0.05 seconds in 2012, is relishing the rematch in Rio.

“I am excited. Been excited for a very long time, very, very excited,” Le Clos said.

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