The American’s ninth career gold medal tied him with Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis, Paavo Nurmi and Larysa Latynina for the most in Olympic history.
Racing out of lane six, Phelps quickly surged to the lead and led by a full body length halfway through the second of four laps. Phelps was nearly two seconds ahead of the field when he touched in 1 minute, 42.96 seconds, breaking the mark 1:43.86 he set at last year’s world championships.
“I just wanted to be out at the 50-meter point and that’s where I was,” Phelps said. “I was in open water and it was difficult for the other guys to see me.”
Park Tae-hwan of South Korea took the silver in 1:44.85, touching while Phelps was already looking at the scoreboard. Peter Vanderkaay, one of Phelps’ training partners, gave the U.S. another medal by claiming the bronze in 1:45.14.
“I knew Park is strong in the last 50 meters,” Phelps said of the 400 free gold medalist, “so I knew I had to be fast and concentrated.”
Phelps is now 3-for-3 in Beijing, keeping him on course to beat Spitz’s 36-year-old record of seven golds in a single Olympics. He opened with a world record in the 400 individual medley, then led off a victory in the 4×100 free relay.
“Phelps swam so fast,” Park said of the 200 free. “It is my honor to compete with him.” – ap