Michael Phelps is an Olympic gift that just keeps on giving (or is it taking, considering the amount of gold medals he has won?). Billed as the Michael Phelps vs Ryan Lochte matchup, the former showed his ridiculous class, yet again, in clinching his 22nd Olympic gold medal by winning the 200m individual medley with such ease that all you could do was shake your head in disbelief while contemplating the fact that he had just broken a an ancient record that had held true for over 2000 years.
In the end, Phelps won the 200m IM in 1:54.66, nearly a whole two seconds ahead of the silver medallist Hagino Kosuke (1:56.61) of Japan. Lochte, who led the field after the backstroke, faded badly in the final leg, to finish fifth, behind China's Wang Shun (1:57.05), who took bronze, and Hiromasa Fujimori of Japan.
The 200m IM was Phelps' 13th individual gold medal, breaking a record held by Leonidas of Rhodes, which has stood since 152 BC. Leonidas, a track and field athlete, won 12 individual gold medals over a course of four Olympic Games in 164 BC, 160 BC, 156 BC and 152 BC.
It took Phelps a while to dominate the race, with the American second after the butterfly, as Brazil's Thiago Pereira led the field, with the 31-year-old staying second, behind Lochte after the backstroke.
From the breastroke and then the freestyle, though, there was no stopping Phelps, as the American powered home to clinch his 26th medal of any kind at the Olympics.
Phelps would then finish second in Semifinal 1 of the men's 100m butterfly, with the legend looking for his 23rd gold medal on Friday.
It was a great day for Americans in the pool, with USA winning three of the four gold medals that were on offer. Apart from Phelps, Ryan Murphy clinched the 200m backstroke title, ahead of Mitchell Larkin of Australia and Russia's Evgeny Rylov, while Manuel Simone won the women's 100m freestyle gold, pipping Canada's Penny Oleksiak and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden for the title.
The only medal race that wasn't won by the Americans on Thursday went to Japan's Rie Kaneto in the women's 200m breastroke. Kaneto beat the controversial Yulia Efimova of Russia and Jinglin Shi of China, who won silver and bronze respectively.