Phelps storms to victory as young stars rise
Michael Phelps recalled past glories with a 100m butterfly triumph yesterday 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.
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.
Manaudou, 21, gave France their fourth swimming gold of the London Games in the one-lap sprint in 21.34sec and got a hug on the deck from elder sister Laure.
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.”
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 today.
“Once I am done and once tomorrow is over, I think a lot more emotion will come out.”