Michael Phelps swims in the gold medal-winning men's 4x100-meter medley relay during his final Olympic race. Photo by Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
By Erik Brady, USA TODAY
LONDON - Michael Phelps won his fourth gold medal of the London Games, and 18th of his life, in the 4x100-meter medley relay Saturday - in the last race of the night, of the meet, of his life.
Matt Grevers put the Americans in front on the backstroke.Brendan Hansen relinquished the lead to Japan's Kosuke Kitajima on the breaststroke. Phelps got it back on the butterfly, and freestyler Nathan Adrian brought it home. Perfect. One last time, Phelps surged to the front in Olympic water.
The Americans embraced in a quick group hug. British fans applauded. They know a thing or two about history, and of kings.
Fans lingered. Competitors did, too. Some of them lined up, as if in a receiving line, to shake his hand.
"It's kind of cool," Phelps said. "That's the best part of the Olympics. You have people from all over the world who come together to compete in the best sporting event ever."
What will he write in his journal about this night? No clue, he said at first. Then he thought maybe this: I did it.
"I've been able to do things no one else has ever done," Phelps said. "And that's what I've always wanted to do."
No one else has ever done this: 22 medals, 18 gold, two silver, two bronze.