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LONDON, England, July 31. THE threepeat curse remained intact at the 2012 London Olympics as Michael Phelps had his second attempt at an Olympic threepeat come up short with an upset performance from South Africa's Chad le Clos in the men's 200-meter fly.
Seen as almost a lock victory for Phelps, le Clos had more left in the tank down the final 50 meters as he surged past the superstar 1:52.96 to 1:53.01 for the gold medal. Phelps had already missed his chance at an unprecedented male threepeat in the 400 IM. Le Clos' time pushed him to third all time in the event's history, and blasted Phelps' Olympic textile best of 1:54.04 from the 2004 Athens Olympics. The win is his first Olympic medal ever. With the win, he became South Africa's third male Olympic gold medalist, joining Cameron van der Burgh from earlier in the meet.
“It's been a dream of mine ever since I was a little boy,” le Clos said. “I just wanted to race Phelps in the final and I've beaten him. I can't believe it. Phelps is my hero and I love the guy. To beat him, I can't believe it. You don't understand what this means to me. This is the greatest moment of my life.”
Phelps, meanwhile, tied Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina as the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time with his 18th medal. Phelps now has 14 golds, two silvers and two bronzes on his resume. But, it definitely was not the color he was looking for as he was pushing for a threepeat in the event. The next chance for a threepeat will go to Kosuke Kitajima in the men's 200 breast tomorrow night.
This is the second huge Olympic moment from 2008 that witnessed a flip in 2012. First, the French overhauled the Americans on the anchor of the men's 400-meter freestyle relay. Then, le Clos touched out Phelps in a butterfly event, reminiscent of Phelps touch-out triumph of Milorad Cavic in the 100 fly in 2008.
Japan's Takeshi Matsuda snagged the final podium spot with a 1:53.21, a top-10 all time effort. His swim gave him a second straight bronze medal after taking third in 2008 as well. Austria's Dinko Jukic placed fourth in 1:54.35, while USA's Tyler Clary posted a fifth-place time of 1:55.06.
“It was a good race for me. Obviously, I was disappointed I didn't get the gold, but I tried my best,” Matsuda said. “I could hear vast cheers and felt great audience support.”
Serbia's Velimir Stjepanovic (1:55.07), Poland's Pawel Korzeniowski (1:55.08) and China's Chen Yin (1:55.18) also were part of the historic finale.
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