Published: Mon, August 15, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Michael Phelps ends career with 23rd Olympic gold medal

Michael Phelps ends career with 23rd Olympic gold medal

The US swimmer's career ended with his 23rd gold medal in the 4x100 medley relay at Rio 2016, which extended his record as the most decorated Olympian of all time.

"Getting off the bus walking into the pool tonight, I nearly felt myself starting to cry", Phelps said.

"Last warmup, last time putting on a suit, last time walking out in front of thousands of people representing my country it's insane".

"This is how I wanted to finish my career". "To swim that last race with him and get gold, it's really a dream come true". "It's just a flawless way to finish".

The 1,000 mark - a first for any country - was reached earlier Saturday, when the American women swimmers won the 4×100 meter medley relay.

In addition to Phelps and Ledecky, the biggest U.S. stars were Maya DiRado, who turned in the ultimate one-and-done with two golds and four medals overall; Ryan Murphy, who extended United States men's dominance of the backstroke; Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to win a gold medal with her victory in the 100 free, plus another gold in the women's 4x100 medley relay; Lilly King, who backed up her brash diatribe against doping; and Anthony Ervin, the oldest member of the team at 35 and a gold medalist again in the 50 free - 16 years after he first won the event in Sydney.

"This all started with one little dream as a kid to change the sport of swimming and try to do something nobody has ever done", said Phelps. "He's opened a lot of doors for all of us". "I'm just honored and privileged to have the chance to race alongside him".

Phelps swam the butterfly third leg of a tight race, pushing the United States from second behind Great Britain up to first before freestyle specialist Nathan Adrian saw it home for gold in an Olympic record time of three minutes 27.95 seconds.

But a blistering breaststroke leg from 100m gold medallist and world record holder Adam Peaty, whose split was 56.59, saw the fastest qualifiers move into first place.

Australia claimed bronze, but the memory of sharing the pool with Phelps in his final race could last longer than the glow of their relay gongs.

Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer and Simone Manuel clocked 3:53.13 to win USA's 1,000th gold at a summer Games.

On the return lap, Phelps powered through the water with his windmill of a stroke, surging ahead of James Guy to pass off a lead to the anchor Adrian. Placing second was Great Britain with 3:29.24 and third was Australia with 3:29.93.

"A 1,000th gold for team U.S. is a nice number", said Manuel. "Sharing that with three other women is just icing on the cake".

Elsewhere in the pool Saturday, Pernille Blume of Denmark took gold in the women's 50m freestyle, edging out 100m freestyle victor Manuel - who finished second.

At age 31, he leaves Rio with five golds and a silver.

"It hurts. I nearly needed someone to give me a Heimlich manoeuvre a couple of nights ago".

Meanwhile, two Italians made the podium in the men's 1,500m freestyle.

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