Michael Phelps Is Officially the Greatest Olympian in 2,168 Years

Michael Phelps tied the record for most individual wins in the Olympic Games (at least we're pretty sure he did)

Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Michael Phelps has broken plenty of records in his swimming career, but only one was 2,168 years in the making.

When the 31-year-old phenomenon earned his 12th individual gold medal (20th overall) in the men’s 200-meter butterfly, he also tied record for most individual wins in Olympics history, set in 152 BC by Leonidas of Rhodes, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon.

An esteemed runner, Leonidas won three events – the stadion (a sprint), the diaulos (a longer run) and the hoplite race (a run performed while wearing armor) – in four straight Olympiads.

Mallon, a former professional golfer and leading authority on the history of the Olympic Games, reached way, way into the history books to share the amazing statistic.

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Phelps has a number of records for the modern Olympics, which began in 1894: the most medals of any athlete in Olympic history, the most gold medals in any one Olympic Games (eight in Beijing), as well as world records in a number of events including the 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly, the 400-meter individual medley, and the 4×100-meter and 4×200-meter freestyle relays.

Phelps extended his record for the most golds of any Olympian ever Tuesday night with his 200-meter butterfly win as well as a team win in the 4×200-meter men’s relay, collecting his 20th and 21st first place medals.

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