Michael Phelps is aiming for gold in tonight's 200m butterfly final even though he has not yet won a medal during the London 2012 Olympics.
Talk in some quarters of the American going for seven gold medals prior to the Games was too ambitious, partly due to the fact that time has caught up with Phelps to some degree, as have many of his swimming rivals.
The reality is Phelps should have a gold around his neck from the 4x100m freestyle but the United States selectors potentially made an error in selecting Ryan Lochte for their quartet when the Floridian is far from a 100m freestyle specialist.
There are no sour grapes on Phelps’s part. He cut a relaxed figure after qualifying for the final of the 200m butterfly last night by winning his semi-final.
There has been much talk of first and lasts at what will be his final swimming championships and also about enjoying himself.
After his semi-final, he admitted he had almost been capturing the atmosphere of the occasion too readily by checking his times during the race.
“I did something that I don’t do in butterfly,” the 27-year-old said. “I tried to see what my 100m split was, which is not really like me. I knew we were all together but I wanted to swim a controlled race and swim comfortably. I was fine with that.”
Phelps’s hopes of picking up a medal in his previous event, the 400m individual medley on Saturday, were heavily diminished when he only snuck into the final as the slowest qualifier and had to start one of his flagship races in lane eight.
And after last night’s swim, he said: “I wanted to pull myself up and not be in lane eight for the final but somewhere closer to the middle.”