Michael Phelps is beyond a mere legend, he’s simply a swimming god. And if you’re going to talk shit to a god, you’ve got to be prepared for the inevitable response.
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After his stunning loss to South African swimmer Chad Le Clos in the 200m Butterfly – Phelps’ signature event – during the 2012 London Games, people said Phelps was done. Then Le Clos decided he was going to start talking trash for some unknown reason.
After Phelps made the honest assessment that the state of the butterfly had been since he retired, Le Clos became fixated. That drove him to a win at the 2015 World Championships that Phelps didn’t compete in. After winning, he said:
“[Phelps] has been talking a lot of smack in the media about how slow the butterfly is, so I just can’t wait until I race him. I just did a time that he hasn’t done in four years, so he can keep quiet now.”
Hours later, at another competition, Phelps went out and swam a faster time. Le Clos’s camp said it wasn’t real because he never had to worry about Le Clos, as his father told reporters:
“However fast Michael goes, we go faster. I don’t care about his times, because I know my son is going to beat him.”
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 9, 2016
When asked about Le Clos’ shenanigans, including trying to psych out Phelps by preening and shadowboxing in front of him before their Olympic rematch, Phelps told Michelle Tafoya:
“There are a lot of things I could say, but I won’t.”
Instead, the greatest swimmer to ever live simply did what he does best.
NBC tried to hype it up as swimming’s version of Ali-Frazier, but there was a problem – Ali-Frazier was close.
In the race, Phelps took an early lead and just stayed out front, dominating the competition, particularly Le Clos in the next lane.
Consider it a life lesson for Le Clos – if you come at the king, you best not miss.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 10, 2016
You have to appreciate that even the Canadian Broadcasting Company got in on the act, saying:
Don’t mess with the GOAT. Michael Phelps, the legend
Don't mess with the 🐐. Michael Phelps, the legend https://t.co/St3bkMKDd6
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 10, 2016