RIO DE JANEIRO — Michael Phelps extended his arms as he took back his 200-meter butterfly gold medal from Chad LeClos after a highly anticipated duel on Tuesday night in Rio, which resulted in the South African totally missing the medals. There was nothing but “U-S-A!” and “Phelps!” chants echoing through the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.
Given that it was Phelps’s 20th career gold medal, it should not have come as a surprise. But judging from the emotion on his wide-eyed, smiling face and his celebration with fiancée Nicole Johnson and son Boomer, he wanted this moment more than most others ... and then he hopped back in the pool to anchor the 4x200-meter freestyle relay to victory for his 21st gold.
Katie Ledecky also continued to show her range, dropping to the 200-meter freestyle and coming away with another gold medal, her second of the Games.
The next best moment of the day came in the gym, as the Final Five captured the U.S.’s second straight Olympic title with Simone Biles leading the way in three of the four disciplines. There was great hype and expectations surrounding this team, and after winning by 8.209 points over Russia, it met those expectations.
It was a bit of a shocker to see Serena Williams exit in the round of 16, but the show goes on and the United States still leads the medal table. With a nice gold-medal haul on Tuesday, the Americans brought their overall total to 26, including nine gold, eight silver and nine bronze.
Here’s a look at what to watch for on Wednesday, Day 5 of the Games:
Ryan Lochte opens solo campaign (Begins at 12 p.m. ET, NBC)
After competing in the 4x200-meter free relay on Tuesday night, Lochte will swim in the 200-meter individual medley heats for the day’s early swimming action.
The GOAT out to defend his title (Begins at 3 p.m. ET; broadcast at 8 p.m. ET, NBC)
With his role in helping deliver the men’s team all-around gold medal for Japan, there’s little to no debate left that Kohei Uchimura is the greatest gymnast of all time. He now tries to defend his individual all-around gold medal from 2012, which would make him the first man to do so since countryman Sawao Kato repeated in 1972. The United States will have Sam Mikulak and Chris Brooks in the final as well.
Chinese dynasty to continue in women’s table tennis? (Medal matches begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, CNBC)
Asian rivalries will be renewed with medals on the line Wednesday. Li Xiaoxia of China faces Ai Fukuhara of Japan in one semifinal, and China’s other star, Ding Ning, takes on Kim Song I of North Korea in the other semi. The Chinese women have never lost a gold-medal match since the sport’s introduction to the Olympic program in 1988.
Neymar and Brazil face elimination (Begins at 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Gold was promised but the first round has been nightmarish for Brazil. It remains scoreless after 0–0 ties against Iran and South Africa. The team need a victory over Denmark in order to advance to the next round. Brazil has never won an Olympic gold medal and took silver four years ago.
Adrian looks to repeat in the pool (Begins at 9 p.m. ET, NBC)
The United States will have Nathan Adrian going for his second straight gold in the 100-meter freestyle. In London, he became the first American to win the event since Matt Biondi in 1988. No American has ever defended his title. Caeleb Dressel will also be in the final for the U.S.
Tweet of the day
I was at the diving venue over the weekend and the water was blue then. Something strange may be up. But that’s nothing that science can’t figure out.
A friend of mine from home texted me saying that he’s been enjoying everything from the Sports Illustrated at the Games podcast feed. Whether it’s original storytelling on rising stars like Evan Jager or recapping/previewing the daily action with Mitch Goldich and Alex Abnos on Very Olympic Today, there is plenty to keep you entertained and informed on all the news regarding the Summer Games.
We’re almost halfway through the Olympics, and if you still need help finding what to watch, here’s Richard Deitsch’s comprehensive day-to-day guide.
Recommended reads from the SI staff
• I gave my thoughts after witnessing what may arguably be the greatest women’s gymnastics squad of all time.
• Real quick story on how the “Final Five” got its nickname, which honors coach Martha Karolyi.
• Heather O’Reilly is still helping out Team USA even as an alternate. Grant Wahl on her assist for gold.
• Alan Shipnuck did a great job of live-tweeting the golf press conference (check his feed for those nuggets) and now previews golf before its Olympic return.
• Rich O’Brien profiles 96-year-old Yosh Uchida, who’s still guiding judokas at the Olympics.
• Michael Rosenberg details how the U.S. women’s gymnastics team rose into a dominant power.
• From our friends at Time: Why Fiji rugby could be the best story of the Olympics.
Athlete to root for
Madison Keys, women’s tennis (Begins at 9:45 a.m. ET, Bravo)
After Serena’s disappointing performance, American hopes turn to Madison Keys as she plays in the quarterfinals of the women’s singles tournament. Her earlier win over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro came after a three-hour face-off with Kristina Mladenovic of France. The 21-year-old Keys has a solid shot at the medal round—she’s facing Daria Kasatkina of Russia and is favored to advance.