Michael Phelps Has Tied — And Could Break — A 2,168-Year-Old Olympic Record

His record-breaking streak continues.

Michael Phelps is no stranger to Olympic records.


He holds one for the most gold medals in a single Olympics, with eight earned in 2008 in Beijing; has set multiple Olympic and world records in various butterfly and medley events; and competed in five Olympic games. The last isn't a record, but is beyond impressive for a swimmer. Oh yeah, he also managed to become a meme.

After Tuesday's night's wins in the 200-meter butterfly and 4x200 freestyle relay, Phelps extended his career gold medal lead to 21. He also has the most medals overall from the games with 25.

By winning the butterfly event, he broke a 96-year-old record by becoming the oldest Olympian to win an individual swimming gold at age 31. It has been held since 1920 by Hawaiian surfer, Duke Kahanamoku. 

He celebrated the victory — which he won by 4 one-hundredths of a second — by exclaiming on Instagram, "Wow!! That was one that'll I'll always remember... I wanted that one so bad last night!!"

While those are obviously remarkable, the next one he could break has stood for more than 2,100 years.

Dating back to 150 B.C., Olympian Leonidas of Rhodes has held the record for most individual gold medals with 12.

According to Olympic.org, "Leonidas of Rhodes was one of the most famous runners in Antiquity." Even though they gave out wreaths and not gold medals at the time, Leonidas was considered "a hero by his compatriots."

Deadspin explains that the sprinter won the coveted "triple" in 164, 160, 156, and 152 B.C. "[It] consisted of the stadion sprint (about 200 meters), the diaulos (twice the length of the stadion), and the hoplitodromos." 

The last race required the runners to compete while wearing a helmet, shield, and greaves, all weighing more than 50 pounds.

Though it's a very different sport, we think it's safe to say that Phelps is still a hero in every regard.


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