Jul 31, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Michael Phelps (USA), right, and Chad le Clos (RSA), middle, and Takeshi Matsuda (JPN) pose with their medals after the men's 200m butterly finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Phelps won his record-tying 18th career Olympic medal on Tuesday, claiming silver in the men's 200m butterfly, finishing just 0.05 seconds behind South Africa's Chad le Clos.
Michael Phelps took the silver medal in the men's 200m butterfly finals, his signature event, Tuesday night in London, finishing just 0.05 seconds behind South Africa's Chad le Clos.
But it was a record-tying second-place finish for Phelps. The silver gives him 18 career Olympic medals, tying him with former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina for the most ever by any athlete.
Phelps had the lead after the first 50 meters, and maintained that advantage at the halfway mark. As the swimmers made their final turn, Phelps had a 0.38 lead on Japan's Takeshi Matsuda. But over the final 50 -- in particular, the final 15-20 meters -- le Clos closed the gap and out-touched Phelps at the wall by just 0.05 seconds.
To put into perspective just how shocking it is to see Phelps lose in the 200m fly: he had not the event in world championship or Olympic competition since 2003. The NBC Live Extra announcer proclaimed it was, "an iconic moment in Olympic history."
With the second-place finish, Phelps narrowly missed his chance to become the first male to win the same event on three occasions -- he won gold in the 200m fly in both Athens and Beijing. He's also still the world record holder in the event.
Phelps will have a chance to set the all-time Olympic medal record later on Tuesday when he anchors Team USA in the 4x200m free relay.