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SHANGHAI, China, July 27. MICHAEL Phelps typically crushes the competition in the men's 200 fly, but this time around he had to pull deep to hold off Japan's Takeshi Matsuda for the gold medal at the FINA World Long Course Championships.
Phelps, who touched behind Matsuda at the 150-meter mark, surged ahead for the win in the final 50 meters to close with a 1:53.34. That time is the 11th fastest all time, giving Phelps seven of the top 11 times ever in the event, including the world record with a 1:51.51 and the textile best of 1:52.09 from 2007. The win gave Phelps his fifth world title in the event out of the last six times the event has been contested.
"That race felt good, but I wanted to do what I usually do when I'm in better shape," Phelps said. "I wanted to step on it from the get-go. I saw the other swimmers at the 150, and I put my hips into it. I know there's a lot more I can do in that race. I have the feeling back where I want it to be, and it feels good."
Matsuda claimed silver with a 1:54.01, improving upon his bronze medal from 2009 and matching his silver from 2005.
"I'm a little bit disappointed, but I'm still happy with the silver medal," Matsuda said. "That time was good for me."
China's Wu Peng rounded out the podium with a bronze-winning 1:54.67. That swim gave Wu his third medal in the event, having won silver in 2007 and bronze in 2005.
"My performance tonight was far better than my semifinal and is my best time in the past two years," Wu said. "I had expected to better 1:54.50, but I'm satisfied with the performance. The world championships are just a warmup event for me because the Olympics are the most important occasion. We are exactly one year out from the London Olympics."
China's Chen Yin (1:55.00), South Africa's Chad Le Clos (1:55.07), Poland's Pawel Korzeniowski (1:55.39), Austria's Dinko Jukic (1:55.48) and Hungary's Bence Biczo (1:55.53) also vied for the title.