Phelps harkens back with win as young stars riseAgence France-Presse . London
Michael Phelps recalled past glories with a 100m butterfly triumph Friday as world record-setter Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky and Florent Manaudou showed Olympic swimming’s future has arrived.
Franklin, the 17-year-old American who was stamped for Olympic stardom at last year’s world championships, won the 200m backstroke in a world record of 2min 04.06sec to claim her third gold medal of the Games.
Her 15-year-old team-mate Ledecky posted the second-fastest time in the history of the women’s 800m free to win gold as world record-holder and Beijing gold medallist Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain settled for bronze.
And 21-year-old Manaudou, younger brother of France’s 2004 Olympic gold medallist Laure Manaudou, won the men’s 50m free—denying Brazilian Cesar Cielo a third straight Olympic crown.
‘It feels absolutely amazing,’ said the ebullient Franklin, who leaned her head against the pool wall and laughed when she saw the scoreboard.
Franklin, who added the 200m back title to her 100m back gold and 4x200m free relay gold, was under world-record pace at the halfway stage and turned for home leading the field by more than a body length.
She shattered two-time defending gold medallist Kirsty Coventry’s previous world record of 2:04.81, with Russian Anastasia Zueva taking silver in 2:05.92 and American Elizabeth Beisel earning bronze in 2:06.55.
Zimbabwe’s Coventry finished a distant sixth—more than four seconds adrift.
‘I never dreamed it would happen like that,’ Franklin said. ‘I knew I was giving it everything I had because I couldn’t feel my arms and legs.’
Ledecky, too, was dominant in a wire-to-wire win in a time of 8:14.63.
The fiercely partisan crowd waited for Adlington to make her move on the youngster, but in the end it was Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia overtaking Adlington and Denmark’s Lotte Friis to take silver in 8:18.76, with Adlington third in 8:20.32.
The British home hope broke down in tears as she accepted her bronze medal and cheers of ‘Becky! Becky!’ rang out from the crowd, which included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Princess Royal.
‘I tried to stick with her as much as I could,’ Adlington said.
‘She is unbelievable. She has such a good career in front of her. I think she will definitely break my world record at some point—I thought she was going to get it tonight.
‘The record is still there, though. I can at least say I am still part of history.’ Ledecky’s performance wasn’t lost on team-mate Phelps.
‘That was a pretty good Olympics for a 15-year-old,’ commented Phelps, whose own inaugural Olympics at the age of 15 yielded a fifth place in the 200m butterfly.
Manaudou gave France their fourth swimming gold of the Games in the one-lap sprint in 21.34sec and got a hug on the deck from elder sister Laure, a former Olympic champion herself, as he left the pool.
American Cullen Jones was second in 21.54 and Cielo, who followed up his Beijing triumph with world titles in 2009 and 2011, was third in 21.59.
‘The qualifying series was the hardest,’ Manaudou said. ‘For the final I thought I had reached my level and now it’s just fun.’
Cielo said he didn’t swim as well as he did in the 100m free. ‘It was my fourth day of competition and I was tired,’ said the 25-year-old Brazilian, who was already looking toward the 2016 Games in his homeland. ‘I’ll make a few changes for Rio,’ he said.
For Phelps, however, London is a last stand and the 100m fly his last individual event in a career spanning four Games and producing—so far -- 21 total medals, 17 of them gold.
‘I thought it would hit me harder than it is right now, a lot of those emotions haven’t gone through my brain over the last week,’ said Phelps, who still has the 4x100m medley final to come on Saturday.
‘Once I am done and once tomorrow is over, I think a lot more emotion will come out.’
But Phelps, who rallied from seventh at the turn—just as he did in Beijing—was pleased to claim a second individual gold to go with his 200m medley after opening the Games with a fourth-placed finish and two silvers before garnering a relay gold.
‘My start of the meet wasn’t what we wanted but I picked up some steam and was able to finish with two individual golds,’ he said. ‘You can’t really finish much better.’
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