Less than an hour after notching up his 20th gold medal with victory in the men’s 200m butterfly, Michael Phelps has won gold medal number 21.
Phelps swam the final leg as the United States won the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay in a thoroughly dominant performance. Phelps teamed up with Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and Ryan Lochte, to post a time of 7:00.66. Great Britain took silver and Japan secured bronze.
It was a blockbuster night in the pool in Rio, with Phelps looking to avenge his defeat to Chad le Clos in the 200m butterfly four years ago.
The talk in the lead up may have been of Phelps and Le Clos, but it was László Cseh who set the pace early and turned first after 50m. It was from there that Phelps began to take control though, with the American keeping Le Clos at bay at the 100m mark.
With 50m to go Phelps was well clear and looked set to ease to victory, but as the legend tired, Tamás Kenderesi grew stronger and looked like he could edge Phelps, but the man from the USA would not be denied with a time of 1:53.36.
It was, in fact, Masato Sakai of Japan who powered through to take silver, with Kenderesi in third and South African Le Clos missing out on a medal in fourth.
At the age of 31, Phelps is the oldest swimmer to claim an individual swimming gold medal and now surely has secured his place as the greatest Olympic athlete of all time.
Earlier, in an enticing showdown between two swimmers who only recently added the 200m freestyle to their schedules, it was a battle between Ledecky who is renowned as more of a distance swimmer against Sjostrom who has made her name as a sprinter.
Emma McKeon of Australia was quickest off the blocks and turned at the 50m mark in world record pace. McKeon held the lead when the swimmers touched at 100m, but as the race continued it was Ledecky who came to the fore.
The American headed into the last 50m with a gap over Sjostrom, but the Swede would not go down without a fight and surged back. Ledecky would not be denied though, and picked up her second gold, adding to the win she secured in the 400m freestyle.
McKeon held on to take the bronze, just edging world record holder Federica Pellegrini.
Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú won her third gold medal of the Rio Olympics with victory in the 200m individual medley.
The 27-year-old set a new Olympic record with a time of 2:06.58 to add another medal to her collection after earlier victories in the 400m individual medley and the 100m backstroke.
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor of Great Britain won the semi-final but could only manage silver with an impressive time of 2:06.88; while Madeline Dirado of the USA took bronze with a time of 2:08.79.