How many Gold medals will Michael Phelps win?
This is maybe the hardest question of all. It's almost sure there won't be 8 Gold medals as 4 years ago at Beijing, because Phelps decided not to compete at the 200 m freestyle event again. His rival Ryan Lochte (also from USA) has beaten him at this distance in the last years and Phelps' personal trainer decided that 8 events are too many to be competed again at the highest level. However, he is the sportsman with the most number of Gold medals won at one single Olympic event and is only 3 medals away from becoming the one detaining the most overall Olympic medals.
I think the best way is to analyze each one of the 7 events at which Phelps will compete at London:
- 100 m butterfly: Phelps is the best at this event. He won last year at Shanghai in 50.71", followed by Konrad Czerniak (POL) and Tyler McGill (USA). However, he won at Beijing in 50.58" followed at less than 0.01" by Milorad Cavic (SRB). The finish was controversial, because the Serbian swimmer seemed to have touched the wall first but more softly, which didn't stop the timer in that moment (less than 0.01 of a second). I believe that the American will win again. You can see the Beijing final in the next video and please tell me if you think it was Cavic who first hit the wall:
- 200 m butterfly: Michael Phelps won at Beijing in 01'52.03" against Laszlo Cseh (HUN) and Takeshi Matsuda (JPN). He won again at Shanghai 2011 against Matsuda and Wu Peng (CHN). Cseh is still the European leader and best opponent, but I don't think he will beat Phelps at this event.
- 200 m individual medley: He won at Beijing in 01'54.03" against Laszlo Cseh again. The third was Ryan Lochte. Ryan Lochte won at Shanghai 2011 in 01'54.00" (WR) a little ahead of Phelps and with Cseh coming in third place. I think Ryan Lochte will win again.
- 400 m individual medley: At Beijing, the same three finished ahead of all as by the 200 medley stated above. At Shanghai, Phelps didn't participate at this event, being won by Ryan Lochte, followed by Tyler Clary (USA) and Yuya Horihata (JPN). The current European champion is still Laszlo Cseh, but he has a lower time than Lochte and Phelps. Since this is the first swimming event, Phelps and Lochte will be fresh and the competition will be very tough between the two, but I don't see Lochte winning both the individual medley events.
- 4x100 freestyle relay: USA won at Beijing followed by France and Australia, but took only the third place at Shanghai, defeated by Australia and France. France has great swimmers: Bernard, Meynard Gilot and Agnel. The French swimmers are also the current European champions and I think they will beat Australia and USA at London.
- 4x200 freestyle relay: USA won at Beijing against Japan and Australia. At Shanghai the first places were: USA, France and China, with Australia 5th and Japan 7th. Germany is the current European title holder. It looks to me that USA won't let the Gold medal go to France or another team, especially if France will in fact win the previous 4x100 relay.
- 4x100 medley relay: USA won at Beijing followed by Australia and Japan. They won again at Shanghai followed by Australia and Germany, even if the Backstroke master Aaron Peirsol was already retired from swimming. There could be a surprise coming from Australia this time (or maybe Italy, the current European champions), but USA are still favorites so I choose them as the winners.
Finals (in chronological order):
- Saturday, 28.07, 7:30 PM GMT: 400 m individual medley
- Sunday, 29.07, 8:54 PM GMT: 4x100 freestyle relay
- Tuesday, 31.07, 7:47 PM GMT: 200 m butterfly
- Tuesday, 31.07, 8:47 PM GMT: 4x200 freestyle relay
- Thursday, 02.08, 8:16 PM GMT: 200 m individual medley
- Friday, 03.08, 7:38 PM GMT: 100 m butterfly
- Saturday, 04.08, 8:27 PM GMT: 4x100 medley relay