- Last night saw the exit of arguably the greatest Olympian in history as
Michael Phelps bowed out of the sport having collected 18 gold medals
and 22 overall.
The 27-year-old started his Olympic Swimming career as a 15-year-old in
in 2000, where the youngster was fifth in the 200m Butterfly.
Six gold and two bronze medals followed in
four years later before his historic eight gold medals in Beijing in 2008.
His Games in London did not start off so well with fourth place in the 400m Individual Medley - his worst result since Sydney - and he was shocked into second by Chad le Clos in the 200m Butterfly.
swimmer won the 100m Butterfly and 200m Individual Medley - where he outgunned
team-mate Ryan Lochte - as well as taking the titles in the 4 x 200m
Freestyle and Medley Relay and silver in the 4 x 100m Freestyle.
Texts and phone calls came from the likes of USA president Barack Obama and last night he was presented with a FINA lifetime achievement award by president Julio Maglione inscribed with the words: 'To Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. From FINA. August 4 2012.
.' London, Great
At a packed press conference afterwards, Phelps revealed what he had said to Bob Bowman, who had coached him since the age of 11, when he completed his final warm-up.
Phelps told Bowman: 'I have looked up to Michael Jordan all my life. He became the best Basketball player there ever was. I've been able to become the best swimmer of all time, we got here together. Thank you.'
Phelps now intends to travel and remain heavily involved with his Swimming foundation.
Of how he was feeling after his final swim, Phelps said: 'It's hard to put into words right now. I did everything I wanted to and finished my career how I wanted to.
'I've always said that I don't care what anybody else says, if I can say that about my career that's all that matters.'
While Phelps's retirement commanded the spotlight, the rest of his
enjoyed great success, heading the medal table with 30 medals: 16 golds, eight
silver and six bronze, as well as setting five of the nine world records.
Phelps claimed six medals, of which four were gold, while his
team-mateAllison Schmitt also visited the podium six times, topping it on
17, won five medals - four of them gold - while Ryan Lochte will also
take home five, including two titles.
Katie Ledecky made an astonishing senior debut, winning the 800m Freestyle with the second fastest swim in history at the age of just 15.
Fellow 15-year-old Ruta Meilutyte of
topped the podium, shocking herself with her 100m Breaststroke victory.
Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen won the 400m Individual Medley gold in world-record time, and returned to win the shorter medley.
Fellow Chinese Sun Yang also set a world record, lowering his own mark in the 1500m Freestyle as he continues to steer the event into uncharted territory. It was his second title, and fourth medal, of the week.
The French enjoyed success: Yannick Agnel anchoring the sprint relay to victory in the final metres over the
taking the 200m Freestyle title. Camille Muffatbecame only the second
Frenchwoman to claim an Olympic Swimming title when she won the 400m Freestyle,
then finishing second over four lengths.
Ranomi Kromowidjojo won the sprint Freestyle double for the
but the Germans left without having visited the rostrum.
There were surprises. James Magnussen - 'the Missile' - did not claim the 100m Freestyle as had been widely predicted for much of the year, defending championBritta Steffen did not make the final of the women's equivalent while Sarah Sjostrom, the Swedish teenager tipped for stardom, must wait for such success.
Most of all, though, the week was about Phelps, the like of whom we are unlikely to see again.