Topic: London 2012 Summer Olympics
Phelps won his 19th career medal overall, eclipsing the 18-medal haul of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina from 1956 to 1964© RIA Novosti. Aleksandr Vilf
LONDON, July 31 (RIA Novosti)
(UPDATES with Latynina quotes)
American swimmer Michael Phelps became history's most medaled Olympian on Tuesday when he and his country's 4x200m freestyle relay team took gold at the London Games.
Phelps won his 19th career medal overall, eclipsing the 18-medal haul of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina from 1956 to 1964, when he anchored the team home with a huge, 3.07 second lead in a fitting finish.
"I've been in a huddle with them because they made it possible. If I didn't get a big enough lead then who knows what would have happened."
The French team took silver, with the Chinese winning bronze.
France was represented by Amaury Leveaux, Gregory Mallet, Clement Lefert and Yannick Agnel, three of the team that won the 4x100 meters freestyle relay on Monday.
China, meanwhile, took third with Hao Yun, Li Yunqi, Jiang Haiqi and Sun Yang.
Phelps was handed a virtually unassailable lead by teammates Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens. All, apparently, part of the plan.
"I told them to give me the biggest lead that they could," Phelps admitted. "I knew France were going to be tough."
Of Phelps' collection, 15 medals are gold, eight of which he won in Beijing, setting a separate record there four years ago.
He took two more bronze in China, before making a low-key start in London.
Phelps was edged out into fourth in Saturday's 400m individual medley, which was won by teammate Lochte.
He took silver with his team in Sunday's 4x100m freestyle relay that was won by the French, and equaled Latynina's record earlier Tuesday by finishing runner-up to Chad le Clos in the Men's 200m butterfly.
But then he went one better.
"It's very special. I saw my mum and I'm starting to pick out people in the crowd. It's pretty special."
Latynina, now 77 years of age, applauded the achievement but said the record would take female athletes a lot longer to break.
"Phelps broke my record, but I think that female athletes won't be able to do that soon," said Latynina, who was in the crowd to witness the swim.
Latynina won every gymnastic category at successive Olympics, a record she's still protecting fiercely.
"No one's been able to do that one," she added.
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