Road To The Olympic Games

Swimming

Michael Phelps strikes relay gold in final Olympic race

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, has earned his 23rd career and final gold medal.

Icon goes out in style with 23rd gold medal

Michael Phelps won his 23rd career Olympic gold medal on Saturday, with his final one coming in the men's 4 x 100-metre medley relay. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

By Paul Newberry, The Associated Press

Michael Phelps closed out the Rio Olympics in the only way imaginable.

Golden.

Phelps put the United States ahead to stay on the butterfly leg of the 4x100-meter medley relay and Nathan Adrian finished it off, giving the most decorated athlete in Olympic history his 23rd career gold medal Saturday night.

If that was the end, and Phelps insists it is, what a way to go out.

He has 28 medals overall, having won five golds and a silver at these games.

"This is how I wanted to finish my career," Phelps said. "Getting off the bus walking into the pool tonight, I pretty much felt myself starting to cry. Last time putting on a suit, last time walking out in front of thousands of people representing my country."

As Nathan Adrian touched the wall to finish off the victory, Phelps gathered the other relay swimmers, Ryan Murphy and Cody Miller, in his arms. One night after his only setback in Rio, an upset loss to Joseph Schooling in the 100 fly, Phelps was back on top.

In the stands, his fiancee, Nicole Johnson, bounced along to the music with their son, 3-month-old Boomer, cradled in her arms.

Phelps is eager to spend a lot more time with them. He plans to marry Johnson after the Olympics and said he's eager to watch his son grow, maybe even dole out a swimming lesson or two.

Most of the U.S. swim team was in the stands to watch Phelps' finale, including the biggest female star of the games, Katie Ledecky, decked out in a matching USA white jacket and cap.

The 19-year-old Ledecky joked that she was proud to be part of Phelps' final Olympics — twice. He initially retired after the 2012 London Olympics, only to decide about a year later to return to the pool.

This time, the 31-year-old sounds much more adamant when he says there will be no more comebacks.

Two-time gold medallist Murphy put the Americans out front with a world-record split on the backstroke — it counts since he was leading off — but Britain surged ahead on the breaststroke with its own world-record holder, Adam Peaty.

Phelps dove into the pool in second place.

He wouldn't be for long.

On the return lap, Phelps powered through the water with his whirling butterfly stroke, surging ahead of James Guy to pass off a lead to the anchor Adrian.

It wasn't in doubt after that. Adrian pulled away on the freestyle to win in an Olympic-record time of 3 minutes, 27.95 seconds. Britain held on for silver, with Australia nabbing bronze.

Phelps was elected a team captain for the first time in his career — this was his fifth Olympics — and truly seemed to enjoy being around his fellow swimmers. He was still the same ruthless competitor, but he was also willing to join in when some of his younger teammates made a carpool karaoke video at their final training camp in Atlanta.

Took a starring role, in fact.

Standing atop the medal podium for the 23rd time, listening the "The Star-Spangled Banner" as he's done so many times before, Phelps teared up a bit and gave a little nod.

Women give U.S. its 1,000th gold

The victory came just minutes after the women's medley relay gave the United States its 1,000th Olympic gold medal at the Summer Games.

Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer and Simone Manuel led the American triumph. The winning time was 3:53.13.

Australia earned silver, while Denmark took bronze.

For Manuel, it was her second medal of the night — she also won silver in the 50 free — and second gold of the games. She became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic swimming title with her win in the 100 free.

Blume wins 50-metre freestyle

The final two individual golds of the games went to Pernille Blume of Denmark in the 50 freestyle, her country's first swimming victory since 1948, and Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri in the grueling 1,500 free.

After posting the top time in both the preliminaries and the semifinals, Blume came through again on the final night of swimming at the Rio Games. She finished in 24.07.

After her landmark victory in the 100 free, Manuel settled for silver this time in 24.09. Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus earned the bronze in 24.11.

It was another huge disappointment for sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell of Australia. They were shut out of an individual medal again, with Cate finishing fifth and Bronte seventh.

Blume was the third Danish swimmer to capture a gold. Greta Andersen won the 100 free and Karen Margrethe Harup took the 100 backstroke at the 1948 London Olympics.

Paltrinieri pulled away from the field and was under world-record pace much of the race before fading a bit at the end. Still, he won comfortably in 14:34.57.

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