Phelps beats Le Clos to win 200m butterfly

After all the hype, verbal jousting and shadow boxing, Phelps floored Le Clos to win in a time of 1:53.36.

USA’s Michael Phelps laughs on the podium with his gold medal after he won the Men’s 200m Butterfly Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on 9 August, 2016. Picture: AFP.

RIO DE JANEIRO - South Africa's Chad le Clos has suffered a major shock at the Rio Olympic Games as he was beaten by Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly fading to finish fourth.

It was the event that he won in London in 2012 and he was among the favourites to win gold again.

After all the hype, the verbal jousting and the shadow boxing, Phelps floored Le Clos to win in a time of 1:53.36.

It was, incredibly, Phelps' 20th gold of his career.

He led at the halfway mark and Le Clos, in the lane alongside him, trailed going into the final lap. It was the perfect position and reminiscent of four years ago.

Phelps touched the wall in 1:53.36, slower than his 2012 silver medal performance, with Japan's Masato Sakai finishing in 1:53.40.

Le Clos, who clocked 1:52.96 for gold in 2012, could only manage a 1:54.06.

With all eyes on the two big men on the blocks, both avoided eye contact as they waited to step up, with the pair standing almost back to back.

The tense atmosphere was cut by shouts from the crowd just as the swimmers were trying to compose themselves, with the start aborted before they had taken racing positions and spectators urged to stay silent.

Le Clos, who won a 200m freestyle silver on Monday, reacted fastest than Phelps at the start but it was Hungary's Laszlo Cseh who led at the turn, with Phelps second and Le Clos third.

The American then used his mighty 'wingspan' to forge ahead into clear water.

Cseh began to fade, with Le Clos moving into second at the 150 metre-mark but the South African could not match Phelps in the final lap, with the American punching the air in delight after stepping out.

Le Clos, devastated, refused to speak to the media afterwards.

Additional information by Reuters