Duel in the pool goes Lochte's way as Ye smashes world record
Saturday, 28 July 2012
July 28 - Could the Michael Phelps era in the Olympic pool be over?
With several more medal chances at London 2012, it is too early definitively to call time on the United States superstar swimmer's career on the most cherished podium in world sport.
But given the emphatic manner of fellow American Ryan Lochte's (pictured top) victory in this evening's men's 400 metres individual medley, Phelps will have to bounce back quickly if he is to add to his phenomenal tally of 16 Olympic medals, a record 14 of which are gold.
For now, he lies a tantalising two short of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's overall tally of 18 Olympic medals.
Lochte won his fourth Olympic gold in utterly dominant fashion, taking the lead early in the race to finish nearly four seconds – a massive margin – ahead of the silver medallist, Thiago Pereira of 2016 Games host Brazil.
Japan's Kosuke Hagino swam strongly in the race's second half to deprive Phelps of even the consolation of a third career bronze medal.
The man from Baltimore was just 15 years of age the last time he failed to make the podium in an individual Olympic final.
Lochte seems well placed now to usurp Phelps as the outstanding male swimmer of the Games.
The pair could clash again later in the competition in the 200m individual medley.
The first night of finals in the Olympic pool was about far more than the "duel in the pool", however, fascinating as that was.
Shiwen Ye capped a magnificent first day at the Games for China, swimming a scorching freestyle segment to overhaul Elizabeth Beisel of the US and obliterate Stephanie Rice's 4min 29.45sec world record in the women's 400m individual medley by more than a second.
Rice could only manage sixth place behind Ye's new world mark of 4:28.43, with Beisel second and Xuanxu Li of China third.
It was China's second gold medal of the night in the Olympic pool, Yang Sun winning the men's 400m freestyle in an Olympic record time of 3:40.14.
It was a disappointing night for the home team with David Carry coming home seventh in that race and Hannah Miley having to settle for fifth place in that electric women's 400m individual medley.
Ellen Gandy qualified for the final of the women's 100m butterfly, with the seventh fastest time, but Fran Halsall did not make it.