Michael Phelps reacts after finishing second in the 200-meter… (US Presswire )
LONDON — Michael Phelps won a silver medal today in the 200-meter butterfly to join a Russian gymnast as the most-decorated Olympians of all time.
Winning his 18th medal tied Phelps with Larisa Latynina, now 77, a Soviet-era gymnast who for 48 years has held the record for most Olympic hardware. With one more medal, which could come later today when he swims as part of the 800-meter freestyle relay, Phelps will own the record outright.
After a slow start to his fourth and final Games, medaling in the 200 butterfly, perhaps his most iconic event, marked a return to the Phelps of yore, when seemingly any time he dove into a pool he emerged with more metal -- most often, gold. Here, though, gold had eluded him.
Phelps had met Latynina earlier in the year, during a photo shoot in New York, and had given him a non-Olympic medal from a U.S.-Soviet Union competition for good luck. She is in London, and while she's been watching the gymnastics competition, she had said she'd like to be at the pool to see Phelps tie her record.
Coming into London, the Baltimore swimmer already had the most gold medals, 14, as well as two bronze.